Your well-being is our priority.

Your well-being is our priority.

Why do so many drivers claim that they don’t see motorcycles?

Motorcycles are a popular form of transportation in California. The mild climate and well-established roads in the Golden State make it a perfect place for motorcycle enthusiasts. Dedicated riders can stay on their motorcycles year-round, while the weather in many other states would force them to put the bike into storage for at least a few of the colder months every year.

Additionally, the state has some progressive traffic laws, like allowing motorcyclists to share lanes. Unfortunately, the state cannot control the behavior of other drivers. People and vehicles often cause crashes involving motorcyclists, and they claim they didn’t see the motorcycle when that happens.

How do people fail to notice loud, heavy motorcycles?

Driving requires a significant cognitive effort

Occasionally, people treat driving as a chore, rather than a risk. They don’t understand how much of their brain’s processing power has to go into analyzing their surroundings when they drive. The brain has to constantly prioritize information, and it will alert someone about what it thinks is most important.

When driving, the brain will look for things that seem threatening, like larger vehicles. Someone can look right at a motorcycle and never cognitively realize it is there. This phenomenon is inattentional blindness, and it is responsible for many collisions involving motorcycles, pedestrians and cyclists.

The brain doesn’t think something presents a risk, so it doesn’t use its energy on that object. The driver might turn or merge into a lane that they think is empty despite glancing right at the motorcycle seconds ago.

Recognizing what contributes to motorcycle crashes can help you make choices that keep you safer out on the California roads, like defensive driving around others who might be distracted at the wheel.