Item: Evaluation of a rule-based decision aid for recreational travelers in avalanche terrain
Title: Evaluation of a rule-based decision aid for recreational travelers in avalanche terrain
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2006 International Snow Science Workshop, Telluride, Colorado
Authors: Ian McCammon, SnowPit Technologies, Salt Lake City, UT, Pascal Haegeli, Avisualanche Consulting, Vancouver, BC
Abstract: This paper evaluates a new decision aid for traveling in avalanche terrain. The aid is intended primarily for winter recreationists in Canada and provides guidance in trip selection, route finding and slope evaluation. In contrast to other avalanche decision aids, this tool does not attempt to calculate risk or the probability of triggering an avalanche. Instead, it frames alternatives in terms of prevention value, or the portion of historical accidents that would have been prevented had the victims used the thresholds of the aid as decision criteria. This paper examines the two components that comprise the decision aid. The first component, the Avaluator Trip Planner, is quantitatively evaluated using 21 years of Canadian avalanche accident data. The second component, the Obvious Clues Method, is quantitatively evaluated for application in Canada by building on a previous analysis of its effectiveness in the United States. Combined, the two components offer a prevention value of over 90% of historical Canadian avalanche accidents. Type I errors by the decision aid (false negative results) are most likely to occur under moderate danger rating and involve small isolated slabs or deep instabilities. The paper concludes by considering the possible impact of the decision aid on future accident trends, and shows that it may be possible to detect a reduction in Canadian avalanche accidents in as little as three to four seasons after recreationists adopt the decision aid.
Keywords: education, decision-making, risk management, safety
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