/Motorcyclists are Urged to Be Extra Vigilant Due to Life Threatening Size-Arrival Effect

Motorcyclists are Urged to Be Extra Vigilant Due to Life Threatening Size-Arrival Effect

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How the human brain perceives distances may be a leading cause in fatal motorcycle accidents, according to a study conducted by Texas Tech University professor Patricia Delucia. Of all the fatal motorcycle accidents researched, Delucia found that a whopping 42 percent had a common set of circumstances, and this common bond may just prove that the human brain sees motorcycles at a farther distance than they actually are.

The Common Circumstance that Puts Motorcyclists in Danger

In the study, aptly titled Effects of Size on Collison Perception and Implications for Perceptual Theory and Transportation Safety, Delucia studied a number of fatal motorcycle accidents in the United States, and more than 42 percent resulted in death after a vehicle had turned left in front of a motorcyclist. The two vehicles then collided because the motorcyclist was much closer than what was initially perceived.

Depth of perception and time-to-collision both played a role in the studied accidents. For whatever reason, drivers believed that a “large far approaching object would hit them sooner than a small near object that would have hit first.” Unfortunately, this size-arrival effect confuses the human brain and allows drivers to misjudge when a motorcycle will arrive at an intersection, and thus if they turn left an accident occurs. For motorcyclists, this is particularly dangerous.

How Can Motorcyclists Protect Themselves?

In the studied cases, there were always fatalities. In reality, a fatality isn’t always a guarantee, but motorcyclists are put at a greater risk of death or serious injury due to the other driver’s negligence. And, misjudging when a motorcyclist will arrive at an intersection is negligence on the turning driver’s part, in most cases and instances. If you’re the victim of this sort of negligence, you do have a right to recoup “medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, ongoing care, diminished earning capacity, lost income, and other costs and losses,” according to Utah-based legal firm Siegfried & Jensen.

The most important thing is that you take precautions to protect yourself, so you don’t have to bear the burden of a lawsuit (or worse, your family has to bear the burden in a wrongful death lawsuit because the accident cost you your life). There are a number of things you can do to ensure that you’re seen and heard, and are therefore safer on the open road.

Although black leather is a signature staple in most motorcyclist’s wardrobes, it’s not necessarily the best color for the open road. Brown and black clothing blends in with scenery, which may make you more difficult to detect. Bright clothing, such as neon safety apparel, is a much better choice. Bright reflective clothing ensures you’re seen day and night.

You want to appear bigger to those motorists who may be wrongly perceiving you as so small you must be far away. A bigger motorcycle, such as a cruiser, can have this effect. These motorcycles are designed for long-distance travel and they’re larger than traditional bikes, which makes them easier to spot on the open road.

The most fundamental way you can protect yourself is by wearing a helmet. In 2010, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warned that an estimated 706 motorcyclists would have survived their fatal accidents if they’d been wearing helmets. Protective gear can mean the difference between life and death, so always wear your helmet, gloves, a coarse riding jacket, and other protective gear, such as leather chaps or padding.

Motorcyclists are urged to keep a distance between themselves and other vehicles. This is the only way to ensure you don’t fall victim to the size-arrival effect and lose your life in an avoidable accident. Try to keep a 20-foot gap between you and other vehicles, and if you notice a vehicle has slowed or applied their breaks, stay out of their lane if possible and significantly slow your own pace to ensure your safety.

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(CEO / Editor / Journalist) – Bruno is the owner and CEO of Motorward.com; he’s responsible for the entire team, editorial guidelines and publishing. Bruno has many years of experience in the auto industry, both managing automotive websites and contributing to the press.