To ride a motorcycle, you need a special endorsement on your license. You will have to complete additional education and take a test to show that you can competently and safely manage a motorcycle.
Safety experts often focus on things that motorcycle riders can do to improve their own safety, such as taking defensive driving courses and investing in visibility gear. However, many motorcycle collisions are the fault of those in larger vehicles.
There is one cause that is more common than most others, and learning about it could help you avoid a collision.
Drivers don’t notice motorcycles in traffic
The sad truth behind many motorcycle collisions is that distracted or inattentive drivers are to blame. People spend so much time at the wheel every week that they fail to treat driving as the dangerous activity that it is.
Partial distraction can make inattentional blindness even worse. Inattentional blindness is the psychological term for drivers failing to notice something despite being in a position where the item or person is clearly visible. A driver in heavy traffic has more incoming visual information than they can focus on mentally. Their brain determines what it thinks are the most pressing concerns.
Bigger vehicles, issues with the road and other possible sources of danger will command a driver’s attention. Smaller vehicles that pose minimal risk may not. A driver can look both ways before turning and gaze directly at a motorcycle only to proceed to cut that motorcycle off in traffic, possibly causing a crash as a result. Drivers can diminish the impact of inattentional blindness on their driving by intentionally looking for motorcycles and pedestrians.
You may need to assume that other drivers don’t see you
Realizing that the average person won’t notice you in traffic is frightening, but you don’t have to give up your motorcycle rides out of concern for your safety. You simply mean to adjust your driving practices to factor in the effects of inattentional blindness on someone’s performance at the wheel.
If you treat every driver like someone who didn’t notice you and could hit you, you might make better choices in traffic that save you from a collision. You may also want to adjust your insurance coverage to reflect the risks you face that are out of your control. More underinsured motorist protection, for example, could prove invaluable if you suffer a catastrophic injury in a wreck caused by a driver with mediocre insurance coverage.
Understanding what causes many motorcycle collisions could help you reduce your own risk while out on your next ride.