There are three safety settings:
- Enable safety - Enable safety to prevent all actions that would give you suspect or criminal status.
- Partial safety - Partial safety prevents actions that give criminal status, while allowing those that give suspect status.
- Disable safety - Disable safety to allow actions which give suspect or criminal status.
In short, this means that if you set your safety to enable safety it is impossible for you to take any action that would make you a suspect or a criminal. Similarly, the partial safety setting will allow you to go suspect, but neither the full safety nor the partial safety will allow you to take any action that would make you a criminal and get you in trouble with CONCORD.
Your safeties are set to enable safety by default, which we call green safeties for short (for all the obvious reasons). This setting makes it a conscious choice to break the law.
That means you will never run the risk of accidentally going suspect or criminal as a new players, or an old one for that matter. The game will simply not let you do those actions and throw you an error message, which goes into the combat & notifications log, which means you can put your trust in the crutch that is the safety mechanics.
Changing your safeties
Changing your safety settings is as simple as clicking the little dot next to your HUD (head-up display) and selecting the appropriate safety level. Manual changes will persist until you decide to change it again.
What safety setting should I use?
If you're not sure how safeties work it's probably best to keep it on enable safety and only change it when ordered to by your fleet commander. Other than that, most people tend to set their safety based on where they operate, in what kind of space.
Something to consider when deciding what safety to use, is what it'll stop you from doing and what it'll allow you to do. What actions would you potentially miss if you were forced to change your setting before doing it? How much trouble could a misclick cause if you set your safety too low? Once you've considered that, your safety choice should be fairly obvious.
High security space
People who operate mainly in high security space tends to have their safeties set to enable safety.
Apart from suicide gankers and smartbomb users who temporarily disable safeties to do their thing and people turning on partial safety to play suspect games, most people run with full safeties to avoid accidentally going suspect or criminal.
Low security space
For the most part, people use partial safety in low security space, as it allows them to operate with next to no restrictions.
The only reason to run with disabled safeties in low security space would be if you needed to use smartbombs or to engage in uprovoked attacks against capsules. Be aware that only the unprovoked attack against capsules actually makes you a criminal, turning your safeties off for smartbombs is just to be able to use the module. Also remember not to jump your ship into high security space while having a criminal timer, as you'd be unable to warp or jump back in high security space as a criminal and CONCORD would relieve you of your ship if a player doesn't beat them to it.
Logistics pilots are often forced to use partial safety due to the abundance of limited engagement timers being created in PvP. The only time a logistics pilot would be forced to run with disabled safeties were if they needed to assist someone who actually becomes a criminal (like people who make unprovoked attacks against capsules).
Null security space and wormhole space
If you live in null or wormhole space and never visit low security space for PvP-purposes there's practically no need to use anything but enable safety, because there are no legaility issues and smartbombs as well as bomb launchers both work on full safeties in wormhole and null security space.
If you live in those areas but constantly traverse through low security space for PvP-opportunities it can be convenient to leave your safety set to partial safety so you don't miss targets of opportunity. Not because you need it for null or wormhole space, but so you don't have to bother changing it when entering low.