Item: The role of training in recreational avalanche accidents in the united states
Title: The role of training in recreational avalanche accidents in the united states
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2000 International Snow Science Workshop, October 1-6, Big Sky, Montana
Authors: Ian McCammon, National Outdoor Leadership School, Lander, Wyoming
Abstract: Avalanche education has become widely available in the United States, and yet trained recreationists continue to comprise over a third of avalanche victims. Does avalanche education really make a difference? This study investigated the relationship between avalanche education and victim behavior in 344 recreational U.S. accidents, and found that victims with more avalanche training did in fact take fewer overall risks. However, all of the risk reduction in trained recreationists can be attributed to better mitigation measures taken by these victims. None of the risk reduction appeared to be the result of trained groups exposing themselves to less hazard. In fact, victims with basic formal training exposed themselves to more hazard than any other group, including those with no awareness of avalanches. In light of recent findings in decision science, these results suggest that behaviorist and naturalistic teaching strategies would be effective in improving avalanche education.
Keywords: avalanche accidents, avalanche education, human factors, decision making, heuristics, risk homeostasis, risk reduction, behavioral education, naturalistic decision making
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