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Why So Many Drivers Fail to See Motorcyclists on the Road

When I almost hit a motorcyclist, it was because she was riding in my blind spot. I came so close to hitting her that she was able to reach out and hit the rear of my car with her hand. Riding in a driver’s blind spot is extremely dangerous, but it’s not the only reason drivers fail to see motorcycle riders on the road. 

In 75 percent of all motorcycle accidents, the motorcycle collides with a passenger vehicle. Why do motorcyclists and drivers cross paths so much? Many drivers don’t see motorcycles on the road like they would a car. On top of that, motorcycles provide less protection than other vehicles putting the rider at risk of severe injury or death. 

Why Drivers Don’t See Motorcyclists

Some studies suggest that drivers miss motorcyclists on the road because they didn’t expect it. Because many drivers don’t look for them, they have an increased risk that they will collide. Many people in the motorcycle community know of someone who either died or got injured in an accident with a car. Unfortunately, motorcycle crashes have 0.83 times the risk of fatality than with cars or buses.

Inattentional Blindness

There is a video on Youtube where people get tested on their situational awareness. The narrator asks people to count how many times the basketball players shot a hoop. Once the video ends, it asks if you saw the monkey in the background and 95 percent of people don’t see the monkey. 

Researchers call this phenomenon inattentional blindness, and it could account for drivers fail time and again to see motorcyclists. It comes down to the fact that the driver didn’t devote attention to looking for motorcyclists.

Driving: Demands Your Attention

Driving a car demands full attention. You can’t remove your eyes from the road for a second because even two seconds of distraction can change your life forever. That could account for why drivers fail to see motorcyclists on the road. It isn’t that drivers don’t see them, but when you have a motorcycle accident, it is rarely forgiving. You rarely walk away with only a couple of bruises.

How to Address the Problem

Unfortunately, the problem will always exist at some level because training the whole population to see motorcycles is tough. You might train drivers to add motorcycles to their list of objects to watch for. That could curb the problem slightly. 

However, it most likely wouldn’t take care of the entire problem because when accidents with a car happen, it usually involves a more serious injury. You will have a hard time mitigating that fact. Some motorcycles have received safety updates to deal with the problem. 

How Motorcycles Differ from Cars

Motorcycles accelerate more quickly than cars, and they can zip in and out of lanes with ease. Motorcycles have risks. For example, if a car hits a dog, a deer or a cat, they risk a serious crash and injury. Cars, on the other hand, won’t get thrown out of shape in most cases if they hit a dog or a cat. 

If a car hits a deer, it could be serious, but motorcycles, because they only have two wheels, increase the seriousness of an accident. 

Motorcycles: How to Stay Safe

Avoid coming up on cars and changing course quickly when near cars. In many accidents with motorcycles and cars, you could attribute this as the main cause of them. Beware of windy conditions from semi-trucks, which can cause you to shift lanes without wanting to, which has led to accidents. 

The thrill and freedom on an iron horse feel like nothing in the world, but you have to stay vigilant while enjoying it. Make intelligent driving decisions. You never want to get into an accident with a car. Keep your headlights on as a motorcycle because it helps to make you more visible to cars. While all drivers must use turn signals to communicate, be aware that sometimes drivers make mistakes, and never assume the unexpected won’t happen.