Motorcycles require more skill than a larger vehicle with four wheels to operate safely, which is why drivers have to undergo special training to have a motorcycle license. Small mistakes could result in someone losing their balance or crashing, and many motorcycle collisions result from preventable mistakes on the part of the rider.
However, when looking at motorcycle crash statistics, there is one disturbing trend that is impossible to ignore. A substantial percentage of the collisions that happen are the fault of the people in larger vehicle, not motorcycle riders. What is the underlying reason that so many drivers cause motorcycle crashes?
People fail to notice motorcycles in traffic
Motorcycles may not be as big as enclosed passenger vehicles, but they are far larger than a pedestrian. They are also loud and have illuminated signals intended to draw the attention of others in traffic. Despite how large and noticeable motorcycles typically are, failing to spot them in traffic is one of the top excuses that drivers provide after causing a crash with a motorcycle.
There is actually a psychological reason that drivers don’t notice motorcycles. The brain has to process so much incoming visual information in traffic that it will usually prioritize what seems most important to someone’s safety. Fast-moving and large objects are cause for concern, while smaller objects may not draw the brain’s attention in traffic.
A driver can look directly at a motorcycle and never become consciously aware of its presence directly across an intersection. This phenomenon, called inattentional blindness, affects almost everyone in traffic. Motorists can overcome this cognitive limitation by intentionally looking for motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. Those that fail to do so are still at fault if they look at a motorcycle and fail to adjust their driving accordingly.
Obviously, there’s very little that a motorcycle rider can do to change the habits of those in larger vehicles. Still, they can prioritize being visible, comply with traffic laws and carry enough insurance to protect themselves financially from the possibility of a crash. Knowing what contributes to motorcycle crashes can help riders embrace habits that increase their personal safety and reduce the chance of an unmanageable crash aftermath in the event that one does occur.