It's common knowledge that motorcycles have the potential to be dangerous and that they have the potential to be part of catastrophic and fatal collisions. But, according to a news report in the Reader's Digest, a new study published in the journal Human Factors, looked at how brain function might have an impact on how we ride motorcycles. The study talks about a phenomenon known as “in-attentional blindness,” which is essentially the brain's failure to register an unexpected object that is in plain sight.
Not “Seeing” a Motorcycle
This might explain why a number of motorcycle accidents – particularly those that result in major injuries or deaths – involve drivers who say they never saw the motorcyclist coming. The study's author worked on the premise that there is a lot of sensory information the brain must process and that the frequency of a certain type of motorcycle crash suggests that there is a connection with how the brain chooses to filter out some of the information.
Researchers tested this theory by asking 56 people to look at photos that had been shot from the driver's point of view. Those photographs included one that had been modified to include an object, often a motorcycle or a taxi. When the volunteers were told to evaluate whether the photograph indicated a safe or unsafe driving situation, researchers saw that people were twice as likely to miss a motorcycle compared to the taxi. They found similar results with follow-up experiments as well. The study's authors recommend that this research could be used as a basis to train motorists to become more consciously aware of motorcycle on the roadway.
What Can Drivers Do?
There are definitely a few steps drivers can take to make sure they are thinking about the safety of motorcyclists with whom they share the road:
- Look to the back, side and front before changing lanes or making a turn. A majority of motorcycle accidents occur when the other vehicle is making a left turn and misses the oncoming motorcycle.
- Be sure to use your turn signals. This will help warn motorcyclists that you are about to make a turn.
- Lane sharing or lane splitting is legal in California. Try to give motorcyclists some space so they can pass safely. This could help prevent a collision on the freeway.
- Do not tailgate motorcyclists. It is a dangerous practice that could result in a deadly collision.
- Finally, don't make it personal. If you hear a motorcyclist revving the engine, it may just be to alert you of his or her presence. Some motorcyclists may need to speed up to pass you so they can get out of your way.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be struggling physically, emotionally and financially as you recover from your injuries. Contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who can help you recover fair and full compensation for your losses and hold the at-fault driver accountable.