We, apparently, have a problem. Motor vehicle drivers are becoming less careful with every safety advance. If this study’s conclusions are correct we will need to keep the next improvements to vehicle safety secret.
Researchers have determined that airbags and antilock braking systems do not reduce the likelihood of accidents or injuries because they may encourage more aggressive driving, thwarting the potential benefits of such safety features.
The behavior responsible for this seeming paradox is called the offset hypotheses, which predicts that consumers adapt to innovations meant to improve safety by becoming less vigilant about safety, said Fred Mannering, a professor of civil engineering at Purdue University.
Claims of safety benefits for airbags and antilock brakes assume that motorists drive the same way regardless of whether their cars are equipped with the safety features.