The Tullock Spike

The economic theory of risk compensation suggests that laws intended to increase safety, such as mandating safety belts in cars, can sometimes have the opposite effect by making people feel safer and therefore encouraging them to engage in riskier behavior. This is also known as the Peltzmann Effect.

This concept inspired the economist Gordon Tullock to come up with the idea that instead of mandating safety belts, it would save far more lives if the government required that large spikes were installed in the center of steering columns, because this would make drivers more acutely aware of the danger of driving too fast. This steering-wheel spike is referred to as the Tullock Spike, or Tullock Steering Column.

Image source: reddit

However, economist Sandy Ikeda has noted that a mandatory Tullock Spike might also trigger unintended consequences: "Some might replace the steel dagger with a rubber one. Indeed, a black market in fake steering-column daggers might arise. But that of course could worsen the problem because now some drivers will drive as recklessly as before, while law-abiding drivers will still have daggers aimed at their chests. There maybe fewer accidents but more deaths than before."

Ikeda suggested instead that the best possible safety measure would be to "ban brakes on cars."

     Posted By: Alex - Thu Jan 12, 2017
     Category: Motor Vehicles | Regulations

Tulloch had a point. Considering all the mandated safety equipment on automobiles, we should expect to see a marked decrease in highway traffic deaths, yet it still hovers around about 1 death per million vehicle miles traveled for the last ten years. (Based on a table found at Wikipedia, so take that with a grain of skepticism.) The real answer would be to ban humans from operating motor vehicles.
Posted by KDP on 01/12/17 at 10:45 AM
My first encounter with the Peltzmann Effect involved kids on playgrounds... So, thanks to this article, i am now envisioning a playground made out of knives and spikes that will prevent any possible problems of any kids getting hurt.
Posted by Fluffy Bunny Slippers on 01/12/17 at 01:06 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.