Thanks to The Arkansas Project, we can all now ask the question posed in this headline:
Should You Be More Afraid of Carjackers — or the Zippers on Your Pants?
Recall that the Arkansas Senate passed the Free-Range Kids Bill of Rights, which says, essentially, “Our kids have the right to some unsupervised time, and we have the right to give it to them without getting arrested.”
But it was voted down in the House of Representatives after the Speaker, Jeremy Gillam, said that at least one provision — the one that would allow parents to let their kids wait in the car for under 15 minutes on temperate days — was too dangerous, because kids could get carjacked in 37 seconds.
The Arkansas Project’s Marc Kilmer went to look this up:
There were….no statistics that I found that measure the length of the average carjacking as taking 37 seconds, as Speaker Gillam claimed.
Kilmer did find stats about kidnapping and determined: “There is a .00000142% chance your child will be kidnapped by strangers.”
Then he found a menace that is far more common: “zipper related genital injuries.”
There were over 17,000 of those between 2002 and 2010 (occurring exclusively to men). And yet there is no move to ban zippers. There are no hearings where legislators decry zippers as a public health menace.
That’s because we recognize that while these injuries are a big deal to those who experience them, there are also benefits from using zippers. The risk of an injury is slight compared to the benefits of zipper usage, so millions of men operate these potentially dangerous products every day.
If you think about it, there is a slight chance of something bad happening in almost every activity we do.
And that is the key. We think we can create a risk-free world by eliminating activities that are very safe, but not perfectly so. But in fact, not only is there no such thing as zero risk, there are trade offs when we try to create that world.
Taking the kids out of the car means exposing them to the danger of crossing a busy parking lot, or entering a store where there could be a hold-up, or tripping on the curb — you name it.
We cannot create a zero risk world, if only because we want to be able to zip up our pants. — L