Thursday, 28 August 2014

Safety Theatre

No, I don't mean dramatic productions in schools to reduce risk to children , wonderful though that is !

I mean taking steps to make things look safe, but which have little or no beneficial effect in practice.

Googling "safety theatre" finds (mostly ? ) only the theatricals, but the American "safety theater" works.
The term Security Theater is wider-known, among conspiracy theorists at least.

It's questionable which things are effective and which not - the list below is neither definitive nor complete. It's part of the definition of 'Safety theatre' that we can't tell which measures are effective.


Even something that has its intended beneficial effect may also have an 'unintended consequence' : something that makes motorists safer may put cyclists at risk.
See Death on the Streets : Cars and the mythology of road safety - [Road Danger Reduction Forum].
And the effect of compulsory seatbelts.
More on seatbelts here - click on internal links to John Adams' earlier posts.
When will they stop pedalling nonsense? - [ AU Daily Telegraph, Miranda Devine Blog ]
"Modern cars have enormous side pillars, for safety reasons, which reduce visibility substantially."

Then there is 'risk compensation' - make a car safer, and some motorists will drive more dangerously.
Conversely, it has been suggested that , instead of a comfy (??) airbag in the middle of the steering-wheel, a five-inch steel spike aimed at the driver's heart would encourage cautious driving.
  • you can feel your brain switching off from monitoring the road so much, as 'nothings happening'. It then 'looks around' for something interesting. I know, I'll just check my phone ...
"Low speed impacts can cause a cyclist/pedestrian to go under the vehicle as opposed to being pushed aside as is if a higher speed." - Jan Piechocki
  • Hooting
    Germany had a campaign ~1981 "Bremsen - nicht huepfen!" : "Brake - don't hoot!"
    Harold Hales, MP, 1935 "What is the horn to-day? It is a licence to kill. 'Did you sound your horn? No?' Then the prosecution wins every time. If you did sound your horn you are free and the horn has killed the pedestrian, who is startled at the sudden noise and dashes into danger."
  • Babel bike - the future of cycling ?
    Is this how we market cycling to the fearful ?
    Babel Bike - 'the safest bike in the world'
'Life-saving' children stickers aim to increase Brisbane road safety - [ ABC News ]



That's like 'Crying Wolf!' - training drivers to ignore children ?

Child shaped bollards, What do you think? - [ highwaysindustry.com ]
Caroline Russell on Twitter: "Oh goodness - this is car culture writ large. Please don't let's see any more of these *child shaped bollards*.?what were they thinking?"

I'm beginning to think this should have been the central theme of my blog !

Not to be confused with 'Subjective Safety'.
Many of these are also 'Victim blaming' - not acting on the source of the danger.


See Also