Perception of risk in avalanche terrain
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- NGI articles 
Although avalanche training and the risk minimization strategies have greatly evolved and are being widely taught to recreational and professional users, too many serious accidents continue to happen within the educated user groups. Whereas misinterpretation of the hazards as well as the complexity and uncertainty of hazard assessment are potential causes for such accidents, a faulty perception of the probabilities of accidents and their implications might be a more important factor, in particular with trained user groups. Although absolute numbers of terrain users and accidents can only be estimated, it is reasonable to assume that the case fatality rate of recreational activities in avalanche terrain has decreased considerably over the last 30 years. Despite all these efforts and the higher level of awareness, the pattern in the remaining accidents in many countries remains the same. The key to the reduction of future accidents might not be in increased investments within the traditional fields which are already part of avalanche awareness and training in most countries, but a higher level of awareness on how to interpret the probabilities and potential consequences. This calls for a higher level of understanding on how low-probability / high consequence events can to be transformed to real life decision-making. Comparisons with activities including similar case fatality rates are not easy as there are only few activities with so few regulations left as in mountain sport activities. Furthermore, different utility functions within user groups influence the risk behavior. Finally we suggest ways of dealing with risk perception in curricula for avalanche courses.