100% safety

First off, for everyone who doesn’t now what “TCAS” means: It stands for “Traffic Collision Avoidance System“. It’s an instrument that scans for other aircraft with transponders and warns you if your flight paths appear to be getting you too close to each other, in order to avoid mid-air collisions.

It’s a great thing to live in times like these. Despite all the horrible news about accidents and crime, we’ve never lived in a safer time, at least here in the western world.

But sometimes, I wonder if 100% safety is a reasonable goal in all aspects of life. Everyone who’s 40 years or older has probably reminisced with friends about our childhoods, where we would ride our bikes without helmets or kneepads and could roam free throughout the neighborhood and only had to be home when the lights came on.

But now that I’m a dad, I look around my old neighborhood and wonder how much leeway I will going to be able to give my kids. For starters, there’s way less kids out and about to play with. Then there’s way more traffic, and while I trust that 95% of all drivers are responsible and attentive, it only takes one who isn’t to cause a catastrophe.

I read an article recently about how kids nowadays grow up with so much structure and so little risk, that they don’t achieve the resilience and independence they need when they’re adults.

I’m sure nobody wishes any harm on anyone else, but where do we go as a society, if there are no negative consequences for our actions, and if there are, people aren’t able to handle them? When you make bad decisions about your job, friends, finances, health, etc. and it become’s society’s duty to shield you from the fallout, it must inevitably lead to an ever increasing and intrusive nanny state.

But I don’t want to open the can of worms to start a political discussion here. I guess it’s incumbent on us parents do lead by example and take on the responsibility to raise our kids right. I sure plan to give my kids as much opportunity for unstructured play and discovery of their physical and mental limits as I can. Although I know that such plans are easier stated than implemented. I’ll let you know in 30 years how it all turned out! 🙂

Tagged with: , ,
8 comments on “100% safety
  1. Mark Dennehy says:

    The thing is, us 40-year-olds reminiscing about the good old seatbelt-free, helmet-free, happy-go-lucky days of cycling our bikes around ignoring health and safety? We’re all forgetting that the child mortality statistics since 1970 have *halved*.

    So yeah, the good old days were great… if you lived. And if you didn’t, you don’t reminisce about how bad the good old days really were, so there’s a mild bias in the data 😀


  2. Good Canadian Kid says:

    There is always a tendency to glamourize the past, we tend to block out the bad and remember the good (which is a good thing or no woman would ever have a second child).

    The graph you posted may be accurate but it’s misleading as it’s just total mortality. We have better health care, safer cars, safer food, etc. and an overall reduction in violent crime. The graph doesn’t just relate to mortality from raising free-range children. Regardless there is a sound argument that too much safety is bad for society, When there are no negative consequences for actions how are people supposed to learn to make good choices? Maximum safety, at some point, requires egregious interference in our lives.

  3. Bernd says:

    In the safety community (I just returned from a big international safety conference) we never talk about “100% safe”, knowing that that is unattainable anyway. We usually talk about “acceptably safe” or “tolerably safe”, which is often linked to what society thinks is “safe enough”.

    This can vary wildly between domains: the rate (let’s say per travelling hour) of fatal accidents that is accepted for road cars with barely a shrug would be totally unacceptable for air travel. And it increasingly looks as if society will also be holding self-driving cars to a much higher standard than human drivers.

  4. Quill says:

    A thought that comes to mind reading Good Canadian Kid’s comment is my thoughts on music of different eras. Many people think the “oldies” were so great, so much better than modern music, a lot of which is pretty terrible. I will agree that some modern music is terrible, it’s a mix of good and bad. But so was “oldies,” there was good and bad. The difference is that with modern music we’re hearing the lot of it, the good and the bad, while with “oldies” only the good ever gets heard, played on the radio, talked about, remembered, while the bad is rightfully forgotten. And in 20 years, the same will be true for today’s music, we’ll only remember the good, and regard it highly. This is probably true for a lot of old things, the best survived, we look at the best and assume everything from that era is great. When we think of classic cars, we think of those that are well-built such as VW Bugs (I have one thus am biased), old Volvos, Mustangs, which have survived to present day and still run (with a lot of TLC) but not the crappy things like Gremlins or Pintos, because we see a lot more of the former than the latter, thus we think they “made things better” back then.

  5. jan olieslagers says:

    I totally agree with @Bernd. Anyone talking about 100% safety, let alone promising it, is essentially a liar.

  6. Bruce Bergman says:

    100% safety is a myth – we’ll always need a pilot at the yoke or driver at the wheel watching the surroundings and ready to take action as needed. As the Tesla on Autopilot drives right into the back of a stopped firetruck protecting the accident scene. And the airliner on auto-landing comes into SFO 100′ short of the runway.

    (Might want to practice Cockpit Discipline & Trouble Escalation, and actually fly the plane manually on occasion so you can take over… “The Pilot turns on the Autopilot and pushes Engage, and the dog bites the pilot if he touches the controls” policy is unsafe.)

    With kids you take the reasonable precautions like pads and helmets, softer surfaces on the playgrounds like sand or mulch instead of pits with punji sticks at the bottom… And have to just plain be vigilant for the rest. No Tackle Football or full contact Rugby or Cricket till high school.

    And after all the Airbags and Seatbelts there has to be a few “Darwin’s Law Tests” left in this world – If you’re That Stupid perhaps you need an open opportunity to remove yourself from the gene pool.

    If you want to do 150+ on a freeway with a 65 MPH limit that keeps most sane people under 75, we need places where you can swerve around a barrier with sand barrels and center-punch a concrete abutment at 150. Or just fly off the open end of an incomplete bridge approach and into the canyon. Go out with style.

  7. Bernd says:

    Bruce Bergmann, I mostly agree, fully autonomous driving and/or flying will remain elusive for a long time.

    One small correction, though: the Asiana B777 into SFO which crashed just short of the runway, was on a hand-flown visual approach with no autopilot involved, because the ILS was out of service.

    (See https://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/Pages/2014_Asiana_BMG-Abstract.aspx)

  8. jan olieslagers says:

    Oh, and before I forget: my compliment for explaining the TCAS moniker. I run my private war against unexplained codes and abbreviations – US’ans are especially good at them, generally, to my exasperation! – and here, for once, there was no need to launch one single missile! Exemplary!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *