Problems Associated with the Assessment of Risk.

Essay by quicksilver81University, Bachelor'sA, May 2003

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Selected topic area: Road Safety. The problems of assessment of risk for authorities, and those undertaking and seeking a completely empirical measure of objective risk associated with road safety, primarily in the UK. John Adams' 1995 text, "Risk", is referred to frequently in the study.


The following problems and issues arising from those problems will be addressed in this study:

1.Road users are people, who are unpredictable.

2.Data collected on road accidents is amongst the most detailed, reliable and comprehensive in any category of accident. Is this enough though?

3.Problem of opposing views of risk: objective vs. subjective.

4.Exposure to risk is individual dependent.

5.Lack of a direct method of assessing an individual's propensity to take risks.

6.Phenomenon of risk compensation.

Overall, many problems of the assessment of risk in the area of road safety are people dependent and the fact that people's subjective view of risk directly impacting on those who seek objectively measure risk, giving empirical measures of such risk.

Section 1

*People are by nature unpredictable and not always rational in their behaviour. This also makes the way individuals act and react to different circumstances unpredictable and is compounded that each individual's perception of risk in certain circumstances is also different. This combination of factors makes for difficult conditions under which to measure or predict behaviour in taking an objective probabilistic approach to assessment.

*A frequentist approach is taken by government in the analysis of statistics available, giving rates of fatalities and injuries in road accidents (Adams 1995, p.10). This cannot take account of people's perception of risk, especially when people's ability to assess probabilities with accuracy is poor. Lichtenstein (1978) addresses this, saying it is clear that the propensity among non-experts is to underestimate the risk of...