My brother is a pretty decent guy. A dedicated teacher who is loved by his students, who helps shy and difficult teens break away from unhealthy social patterns by organizing a weekly theater class, and who’s also a human GPS that can guide you back home no matter where you are in the city or in its more distant surroundings:
“Just tell me where you are. Tell me what the next sign on the highway says,” he responded to my frantic call at around midnight.
“It’s says ‘Border Crossing, 20 km’.”
“Geez woman! That’s more than a wrong turn! Just get off at the next exit and I’ll tell you how to get back.”
Now the kicker: He has broken his wrist and ankle (more than once), suffered a concussion, and has a rather entertaining habit of spilling something on his crisp, brand new shirt at every (and I mean EVERY) holiday dinner. Accident prone? Probably. Will he admit it? Nope.
“Coincidence,” he’ll say. “Sometimes these things just happen.”
But when a person regularly gets hurt (and they’re not on a motorcycle attempting to jump over the Grand Canyon wearing a stars and spangles jumpsuit and helmet), I can’t help but ask, “What the heck is wrong with you?” Or to be more politically correct: “What personality traits make a person more prone to accidents?” And then I’ll dig into my oodles of statistical data from Queendom’s Accident Proneness Test and try to answer my question (because really, there’s nothing more fun than analyzing data on a cold wintry day…well, maybe it’s just me who finds that fun).
- 34% have trouble paying attention, following directions, and/or finishing tasks.
- 36% admit that if someone called them a “chicken” they would intentionally do something daring to prove the person wrong.
- 34% believe that rules are made to be broken.
- 43% admit that if they don’t see the point of a rule (or think it’s a dumb rule), they won’t follow it closely.
- 41% will one-up anyone who tries to one-up them.
- 14% are unwilling to take responsibility for their own safety.
- 24% believe that they don’t have the ability to prevent accidents.
- 46% admit (perhaps rather proudly) that others consider their lifestyle wild and exciting.
- 50% have a short attention span.
- 28% believe that asking others for help is a sign of weakness.
- 60% are not very detail oriented.
- 29% don’t create a Plan B when taking risks.
- 29% don’t take even simple precautions to prevent accidents.
- 58% said that they’re always looking for ways to “spice up” their daily routine (bungee jumping anyone?).
- 25% will ignore safety procedures in order to get a task done more quickly.
- 24% make decisions on impulse.
- 30% make decisions based on what will make them look “tougher.”
- 21% don’t check their work for mistakes.
- 23% don’t ask for guidance or help when making high-risk decisions. (“Are you sure this bungee cord is secur…ah never mind, I’m sure it is.”)
- 57% are energized by situations in which most people would be scared or stressed.
- 54% are self-proclaimed “thrill-seekers,” 40% are “rebels,” 21% are “carefree,” 73% are “adventurous,” 23% are “sloppy,” 57% are “spontaneous,” and 26% are “disorganized.”
So what advice can I offer my accident prone friends? Don’t give up your desire for adventure! Just try to do more of the following:
- Use common sense. Always exercise caution and make a back-up plan. This allows you to minimize negative outcomes of failure.
- Maximize gains and minimize losses. Avoid taking risks that are all or nothing. If you’re uncertain about the stakes, consider the worst-case scenario and its effects on your life. If the worst case outcome would be devastating, minimize your losses by putting less on the line.
- Do your homework. Prepare for the risk that you are about to take. Research the subject and calculate the potential losses and gains.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be blinded by the hype surrounding a new idea or trend. What looks like a great investment, for example, could easily become a bad joke.
- Visualize loved ones taking the same risk. If the thought of someone you care about taking the same risk causes worry, that’s a good sign that the risk isn’t worth taking.
- When in doubt, ask a professional. This goes for professional, financial, and physical risks. If you are not trained or knowledgeable in a certain area, don’t try to fake it. If your roof is leaking and you’re not a roofer, don’t try to fix it yourself. Consulting an expert minimizes the potential for disaster, and provides peace of mind.