Motorist Responsibility

Motorist actions can impact the safety of motorcyclists greatly! A large portion of motorcycle crashes involve two key components – poor speed and spatial judgment of other drivers and poor motorcyclist conspicuity.

Sharing the roads with thousands of bikers requires special attention –
Look Twice. Save a Life!

  • Double-check traffic at intersections before you turn or pull out.
  • Always check your blind spots before changing lanes.
  • Treat motorcyclists with the same respect you give other motorists.
  • Leave at least a four-second distance between your car and a motorcycle in front of you. Note when a motorcycle passes a point in the road.
  • When passing a motorcycle, give a full lane to the motorcycle.
  • Keep a watchful eye at all times; a motorcyclist may be closer than you think.
  • Don’t drive distracted! Distracted driving is anything that takes your attention away from the primary task of driving.
  • Remember to yield the right-of-way to motorcyclists.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation Web site provides information for Car Drivers on safety tips, facts and figures, video instruction, and additional resources on how to safely share the road with motorcyclists.

The most common type of crash involving a car and a motorcycle is at an intersection when a motorist makes a left turn in front of a motorcycle. All too often motorists will turn left into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist either because the motorcyclist is hidden by roadway features or because the motorist just didn’t “see” the motorcycle. In fact, if you fix your gaze on one object long enough while you yourself are in motion, your peripheral vision goes blind.

Here is an example of an optical illusion which demonstrates potential issues with having a fixed gazed while driving. Below you see a rotating array of blue crosses and 3 yellow motorcycles. Now fixate on the center (watch the flashing green car). What do you see?

This is captively called “motion induced blindness” or MIB.

What is Motion Induced Blindness?  MIB can best be described as the brain’s inability to process what the eyes see when the input becomes too complicated. So, it simply does not process some of the input, and things “disappear”.  A commonly heard comment from drivers who have been in crashes, particularly ones in which the other vehicle approached from the side, is:  “I never saw it coming!” And they really didn’t. I know what you are thinking…Given our peripheral vision, how does this happen?

This most often happens when we allow our eyes and attention to fixate on a point or object, and the brain is trying to process both the fixed point and multiple moving objects in the peripheral vision at the same time. The human peripheral vision is amazingly adept at picking up movement, and providing the brain a 3D moving picture of what is around us. We unknowingly short-circuit this ability by becoming visually fixated on a point for more than 2-3 seconds at a time, after which we are taking some of the brain’s processing offline, and it begins to miss moving objects and detail in the periphery.

Things to do:

  • Remain alert and vigilant on the roads.
  • Avoid driver fatigue and the additional pressure it places on your vision.
  • Avoid driver distractions and remember that the road and road users need all of your attention.
  • Do not repeatedly fix your gaze for more than a couple of seconds on any single object. The most dangerous target is the one that has NO apparent motion. This is the one you will hit without evasive action and also the one you will NOT see.
  • Keep your eyes moving and scan, scan, scan…!