The idea that, if you mitigate the consequences of a particular type of accident, then that type of accident will necessarily occur much more frequently, more than negating the initial benefit.
The CF assumes that human nature is perverse and seeks to equalize consequences. Hence, improved automotive technologies such as air bags, ABS, space frames, etc. will be offset (or more than offset) by careless driving, leading to increased highway fatalities.
FALSIFICATION: Empirical evidence shows that, while reducing consequences increases risky behavior, overall safety/health outcomes are better. Insurance companies with a stake in reducing claims verify this.
More generally, the CF confuses all forms of risk-taking, such as faster highway speeds, with fecklessness. Increased speed and convenience (for motorists) has utility; and there is no principle in welfare economics that says risk-taking will increase by an amount sufficient to offset the safety measures.
The massively overrated book *Freakanomics* (Dubner & Leavitt) includes many examples of the curmudgeon's fallacy.
The belief efforts to protect people from calamity will only lead to them being more careless, and bringing on more calamity.
This is a fallacy because it (a) assumes people can adjust personal risk to replicate an incomparable situation, and (b) it confusing risk-taking and risky behavior. "Risk-taking" is a neutral term that includes anything that increases risk in some way, such as operating a machine at a higher speed. This usually is done to get some other benefit. "Risky behavior" is foolish, feckless, or sloppy behavior that has no intrinsic utility to the person engaging in it.
An example of the curmudgeon's fallacy is the erroneous claim that safer cars make for careless drivers.