A common excuse that drivers give after hitting a motorcycle is that they simply did not see that motorcycle. This can happen while pulling out of a driveway, turning left in front of a motorcycle or simply merging into the lane that the bike already occupies. The motorcyclist, outraged, demands to know how this could have happened, and the driver simply says they never saw the bike.
It’s easy to assume that the problem is that the driver didn’t look, but it’s far more complex than that. Science has shed some light on why these accidents happen and how drivers can avoid them.
Being in plain sight doesn’t mean you’ll be seen
In reports in Science Daily, researchers took on the perplexing question of how an object that is clearly visible — not hidden behind a car, a bush or another object — could still be missed, even by a driver who looked directly at that object. It’s understandable how someone would miss a hidden object or how they may fail to look, but how can they still overlook something when these two conditions are met?
The answer is inattentional blindness, which the study defines as “a person’s failure to notice an unexpected object located in plain sight.” It’s the unexpected nature of the object — a motorcycle — that confuses the brain. It can gloss right over that object.
In other words, people see what they’re looking for and what they expect to see. A driver may turn onto a heavy trucking highway every morning on the way to work. They are very used to looking for massive 18-wheelers. One day, they pull up and there is only a motorcycle coming down that stretch of road. But the driver doesn’t “see” the bike. All that registers in their brain is that there are not any trucks. Then they pull out in front of the bike and cause an unexpected crash. They’re just as confused as the rider on the motorcycle.
You may need compensation for these injuries
Inattentional blindness is not an excuse for driving errors, yet we know it happens. If you get injured when someone else makes a mistake, you may need to seek financial compensation for those injuries.