remember my father objecting intensely when wearing safety belts became mandatory in the early sixties. He said that it would create a new sense of security and make people drive more reckless, creating more accidents. So the "dumbing down" argument has been heard before. Anybody agree with my father's opinion today?
Yep, it's called Risk Compensation Theory, well known and understood in insurance actuarial circles. If we think we're safer, we take more risks.
40 years ago my father in law taught me how to use a chain saw safely. He knew what he was doing, he was MD of the UK's only chainsaw manufacturer at the time (Danarm). He took a very dim view of safety equipment. He felt that knowing that the slightest error could cause horrible injury or death was the best way to avoid becoming blasé about their use. I still don't use any safety kit today when using a chain saw.
As for cars, imagine how safe they'd be if brake lights were outlawed and there was a solid steel spike. in the centre of the steering wheel, aimed at the driver's chest.