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Why do drivers miss seeing motorcyclists?

If you ride a motorcycle you might feel that you are hard to miss. This could be even more true if you ride a large bike or a distinctive one.

Yet, each year, many motorcyclists who may also feel they stand out are injured or killed by drivers while riding.

The problem is that drivers and motorcyclists don’t think alike

As a motorcyclist, you probably find it easy to spot motorcycles as they approach you. You might even be able to identify what model they are from a distance by sound alone.

Most drivers do not have the same interest in motorcycles that you do. Hence they do not go out looking or listening for them.

“Wait a minute,” you say. Aren’t all road users meant to look out for other road users? They are, but even when drivers think they are doing this, they are still more likely to spot another car than a motorcycle due to what is happening at a subconscious level.

We see what we expect to see

Inattentional blindness is the term given to people missing things straight in front of them that they are not expecting to see. Our brain takes shortcuts to identify the things around us and these shortcuts are based on previous experience. So, if you have spent a lot of time riding motorcycles, you’d be more likely to see than if motorcycles have played hardly any role in your life to date.

While this can help explain why drivers fail to spot motorcyclists and crash into them, it does not excuse their behavior. If injured by a driver, you’ll need to examine your compensation options.