Do you have any specific fears that come up in certain situations? Maybe you worry about the risk of a shark attack every time you swim in the ocean. Maybe hiking in the mountains makes you think about bear attacks. Perhaps going outside in a storm makes you very nervous about getting hit by lightning.
It’s not that you shouldn’t worry about these things. They’re all potential reasons for caution in those situations. But what is very interesting is that people are often far more frightened of these risks than they should be, while simultaneously discounting the risks they face every single day.
For instance, let’s take a look at the odds of being attacked by a shark against the odds of passing away in a car accident. Your real risk of a shark attack, no matter how the movies made you feel about sharks, is just 1 in 3,748,067. Odds are that, no matter how much traveling you do, you will never even see a shark in your entire life.
At the same time, your odds of passing away in a car accident come in at a stunning 1 in 84. Those chances are far higher than you care to think. If you have 420 friends on social media, for instance, the odds say that five of them will die in car accidents.
Worse yet, it is far easier to avoid your other fears than it is to avoid a car accident. Car crashes are often completely random. Safe driving helps, but other drivers still make mistakes. A huge number of factors are entirely out of your control every time you get on the road. No one likes to think about it, but that next trip to the store could be the last trip of your life.
Meanwhile, you can easily avoid shark attacks by staying out of the ocean. Even if you do swim, simply picking safe areas massively decreases the odds of an attack.
Why do we worry?
So, why do we worry about the low risks that we can control, rather than the high risks that we can’t?
We simply cannot accurately judge risk. One shark attack story on the news can scar you for life. There are so many car accidents stories that you stop paying attention.
We also grow complacent. You probably drive every day. After a few years of safe driving without an accident, you start thinking it won’t happen to you. The statistics tell you the risk is there, but you can’t see it.
If you do get in a car accident, make sure you understand your legal rights. If a loved one dies in a crash, you may also be able to seek financial compensation.