When a car or truck driver crashes into a motorcyclist, their first words are usually something like, “Hey, I didn’t see you.” As you lie on the ground, you might wonder how that’s possible. After all, it is not like you are invisible, right?
While motorcyclists are not technically invisible, they can be practically invisible to other motorists due to the way people’s brains work.
What causes many drivers to overlook motorcyclists?
Have you ever stood in a busy subway or bus station? Could you have described every person inside it when you stepped out onto the platform a few minutes later? Of course not, yet all those people were right there in front of your eyes. You probably could have described someone you focused on if they grabbed your attention in some way — yet the vast majority of people right next to you barely register in your mind.
The psychologists call this inattentional blindness. It means that we often miss things right in front of us because we are focused on something else. It can be a serious problem when out on the roads. Most car drivers do not expect to see motorcycles. They drive a car, so they expect to see other cars, not motorcycles and bicycles.
How can you make sure drivers see you on your motorcycle?
There is no way to guarantee all drivers will see you. However hard you try, inattentional blindness, and distraction, mean that some drivers will look straight through you. That does not mean you should not try. Ensuring your bike is well lit and using a few bright or reflective clothing items can make a big difference, as can your road positioning.
Does inattentional blindness mean it is not a driver’s fault if they knock you off? Not in the eyes of the law. If someone injures you in a motorcycle crash, you have every right to hold them responsible. While they might not have seen you, they should have.