“In high school, I played football and wore pads and a helmet. During that time, I endured two shoulder separations, a dislocated kneecap and several snapped tendons in my hand.In college, I played rugby and wore heavy cotton shorts and a stiff jersey, while suffering only some scraped elbows and several memorable hangovers from parties with “rugger huggers” after matches.
More equipment, more injuries? Social scientists have seen that before; they call it the Peltzman effect, after the economist Sam Peltzman. The feeling of safety, it seems, induces us to be less careful. A famous illustration of the Peltzman effect is that the better sky diving gear becomes, the more chances sky divers take, keeping the fatality rate from sky diving roughly unchanged over time. Peltzman’s point was that though rule-makers can regulate safety, people choose their own level of risk.”