Psychology | Considering the risks
We take risks all the time. Just getting out of bed in the morning is risky. I broke a bone once, just trying to get into bed! We do things with our lives to make them interesting and so risks are a part of life. We don’t really want to break bones or have anything go wrong. So how can we manage those risks and keep them to a minimum?
You could avoid doing anything risky. Avoid flying or travelling by any means other than walking? Walking can be dangerous though. You could get run over by a bus. Maybe restrict all your walking to parks and places where buses don’t go?
You could look at the statistics and weigh up the odds of getting involved in an accident. They say air travel is safer than travelling by road. I suppose that dying horribly in an air crash is a million to one thing or even greater odds. The odds of winning the lottery are about 17 million to one, but I still buy a ticket. Just considering the odds isn’t enough when we assess risk. A million to one chance of dying horribly in a burning plane is enough to make you as nervous as having a flu jab. The chances of not feeling any pain are better with the plane journey, but the chances of surviving are probably better with the flu jab.
Things are never simple. Look at driving on the motorway. Statistically, it’s safer to drive on a motorway than on a normal A road. If you do get in an accident on the motorway it can mean a horrible pile up, that’s just as bad as dying in that burning plane! People still drive on motorways and they don’t even get nervous about it. Other people are so scared of driving on motorways, they even avoid motorway junctions. I admit that the last time I drove on the motorway, I thought most of the other drivers were crazy. The traffic slowed to about 40 and bunched together, the gaps between the cars were 10 yards or less. I think the gap between my car and the car in front was at least 50 yards. I wasn’t worried about stopping if the rest of the traffic suddenly stopped. I was worried about the guy behind me. I had to allow time for me to stop, but I also had to allow time for people behind me to stop too. If I braked too hard, they would all pile into me from behind.
Was I being too cautious driving with a gap between me and the car in front that was 5 times the size of the gap everyone else thought was safe? Was I being over cautious? I think I was being reasonable in reducing the risk of that one in a million chance of a pile up causing me to burn horribly to my death on the M6 motorway!
We can reduce risks. We can keep to well lit areas when walking alone at night. We can avoid tail gating on the motorway. We can drive with our lights on even in daytime when it dark and miserable. We can check our cars regularly to keep them well maintained. We can be careful crossing the road. We can avoid using our phones when walking and refuse to use them when driving. We can watch our diets and eat healthy to reduce the risk of serious disease. We can avoid smoking and excess alcohol to reduce the risk of cancer and heart attacks. We can think before we take risks and be careful.
You have to take risks to enjoy life, or you would have no days out, no nights out and no holidays, but you can mitigate those risks. Even travelling a little less reduces the risk. Those little things like checking tyre pressures regularly or before motorway driving, reduces risk. Putting on sun block, reduces risk. Just thinking about risk; reduces risk.
How about you, do you think about risk? Please comment and share your thoughts.