EVE doesn’t need less risk - OP is right that it needs more.
But it needs the level of risk to vary depending on rational principles.
Right now, highSec is more dangerous than “owned” nullSec. Experienced players choose when they fight (if ever) and why. New players are easily griefed in highSec.
Both bittervets and CCP say “it’s a sandbox”.
Bittervets because they don’t want to change anything about the environment that’s put them were they are (minimal risks, minimal combat, huge income for minimal effort). It’s rational. You’d think they would be bored, but that’s what the sendbox “selects” for.
CCP is a mystery. They must have been seeing new-player retention problems for most of the life of EVE. They do things, but they don’t seem to believe in" The Law of Unintended Consequences", which is stupid in a game that “selects” the kind of player that sticks around in EVE.
CCP’s many game “improvements” seem always to benefit vets, and have no positive effect on newer players. But of course “sandbox design” suits lazy designers: they don’t have to consider the result - just the technical stuff.
An equivalent law is “Everybody games the system”. Combine that with a player base that enjoys driving away rookies, and unmanaged “sandbox-design” will certainly not help beginner retention.