If you have ever searched frantically for something in your home, such as your keys or a book, while that thing was right in front of you, you are familiar with a kind of inattentional blindness. While this can be funny or, at worst, annoying when it happens in that environment, it can be deadly when it happens on the road. Drivers in New Hampshire might be involved in accidents when inattentional blindness means that they do not see a motorcycle on the road despite looking at it.
“Look but failed to see”
This is referred to as a “look-but-failed-to-see” crash, and in traffic accidents in which motorcycles are involved, it is the most common type. These types of crashes occur even when there are no mitigating factors, such as bad weather or poor visibility. The reason they occur is simply a matter of cognitive load. The brain, faced with a barrage of information when driving, filters out information that it deems unimportant, and motorcycles unfortunately often are part of the sensory input that is filtered out.
When drivers fail to see
Researchers in Australia tested the tendency of people to overlooked unexpected information in images. Almost half of participants did not notice a motorcycle or taxi when it was added to an image, but the lack of recognition for the motorcycle was much higher. Researchers suggested that awareness of this tendency should be raised so that drivers can be more conscious about paying attention to motorcycles.
Without the body of a vehicle around them for protection, motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to injuries in motor vehicle accidents. If this accident is the fault of a driver because of inattentional blindness or for any other reason, the injured motorcyclist might be able to get compensation, which can be important for covering accident-related expenses.