Don’t make fun of risk management


There’s an intersection in my neighbourhood that makes me nervous to drive through. Imagine a quiet suburban street that goes north-south which intersects the east-west streets that only have stop signs. I’ve observed that frequently cars travelling east-west roll through their stop or assume it is a four-way stop and the perpendicular traffic will yield to their non-existent red octagon. Literally this is an accident waiting to happen.

As a result of the limited trust I have in the drivers going the other way, when going north-south I tend to slow down. And when I do my wife mocks my intersection risk management.

Next, I know a fellow who used to lock his car doors when he drove (much to the ridicule of his elder sibling). It was all shits and giggles until once at a red light, someone opened the elder brother’s car door and stole what was on his passenger seat.

This all reminds me of the poem “La cigale et la fourmi” by Jean de La Fontaine that I had to memorize in the third grade. You’ll know it: it’s the one about the cricket who is having good times singing all summer while the ant was saving food preparing for the winter. Well the cricket laughed at the ant’s risk management practices and you know what happened? The cricket died in the winter. He died.

Most often people don’t manage risk until something bad actually happens and by then sometimes it’s too late (see cricket above).

So don’t make fun of risk management or those who do it.

5 thoughts on “Don’t make fun of risk management

  1. I used to have an office that looked out over a 4-way stop in Kansas City (the area is called Country Club Plaza) with no posted stop sign at any of the intersections. Missouri law for some reason says that at a four-way stop with no posted signage, the driver is compelled to stop. Ridiculous as this was, plenty of people told me that signage would damage the ambiance of the area. My response was to ask if a car accident in which their spouse and children were involved would destroy the ambiance.

    That intersection now has lights if I am not mistaken.

    1. I once visited my friend 20 years ago when he lived in Hoboken, NJ. If I recall his explanation, half the intersections in his neighbourhood had 4-ways stops while others just 2-way. Driving through, I noted that none of the streets had any stop signs. He explained that people stole the signs so drivers took to just stopping at all the intersections. (That KC story is crazy – what are out of state drivers to do?)

  2. Kansas City is on the Kansas/Missouri state line – so you get lots of Kansas drivers there. As far as I know, there was no similar law at the time in Kansas. Accidents often involved a Kansas driver (this was below my office window – I heard them once a week).

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