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What you may be describing is "Risk Compensation:"


That has been borne out with studies of how people adjust to airbags, SUVs, pickups, and other vehicles they emotionally perceive as being safe.

One of the things I've read about risk compensation is that it has very little correlation to the actual safety of a vehicle, and a lot of correlation to certain features that people emotionally associate with safety.

For example, modern automobiles are safer when they provide plenty of rear visibility. However, many inexperienced drivers feel safer when cocooned in opaque materials, so they feel safer in vehicles with less glass. It feels to them like they're wrapped in protective steel.

Likewise, in a previous era people felt safer in longer vehicles, even if those same longer vehicles were less maneuverable and therefore more likely to get into an accident in the first place.

Length of vehicle is highly visible, the ability to avoid an accident is not.

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