Curbing ‘Risk Compensation’ in New Hampshire
From the NYT:
“There has often been an appealing vein of common sense in New Hampshire, and that is true of its regulations for people who venture outdoors. The state has always done what it can to rescue hikers and skiers who get lost or in trouble. Since 1999, it has billed them for the costs of rescue if their behavior was reckless. But in July, the standard was changed. If you find yourself in trouble thanks to your own negligence, a lower threshold of responsibility, then you also may end up paying the cost for being rescued.
There is something a little peculiar about the need for a law like this. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is hoping not only to recoup some of its rescue costs, but also to warn hikers and skiers that their behavior in nature has consequences.
It’s hard to imagine Americans protesting about having to pay for their ambulance rides after getting sick at home, or injured in a highway crash. But most Americans live lives that are incredibly distant from nature. They often do not understand that venturing into the backcountry means entering a realm of purely personal responsibility.
The greater reach of cellphone service, while making rescue more likely, makes it easier to forget the risks. You can get just as lost while carrying a cellphone — even with good coverage — as you can without it.
That is New Hampshire’s trouble, and it is one of the reasons there is controversy over efforts to expand cellphone coverage in the national parks. That includes Yellowstone, where there are plans to expand the cellphone service that exists near developed areas, like Old Faithful. The backcountry is a world with rules of its own, enforced by nature itself. If that means billing visitors for the costs of their negligence, we say, fine by us.”
This entry was posted on Monday, January 19th, 2009 at 8:10 am and is filed under Risk. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.