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Research shows observational limits cause motorcycle crashes

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Many drivers of passenger vehicles in Virginia probably do not realize that they are a threat to motorcyclists. Even the most careful drivers may cause an accident, though, thanks to limits in how the eyes take in information and how the brain processes it.

According to Road & Track, if the brain had to process everything the eye takes in, it would suffer from severe information overload. So, it develops shortcuts, especially in familiar environments, and these can lead to a failure to recognize a motorcycle moving toward the vehicle.

For example, stopped at a stop sign, a driver looks left, right, and then left again. The first glance to the left reveals a motorcycle at what seems to be a considerable distance away. During the second glance to the left, the motorcycle is dangerously close, but the brain has already established that the coast is clear and does not register the motorcycle's proximity. 

AutoWise adds another explanation to the reasons drivers do not see motorcycles. A researcher from Texas Tech University discovered that people interpret smaller objects as farther away, and larger objects appear to be closer. The motorcycle may be closer than the car, but because it is a third the size when seen straight on, the driver believes there is enough time to cross the intersection safely. Not only does the brain conclude that the car is closer, it also will interpret the car as moving more quickly because of its size in relation to the motorcycle. 

The best thing motorcyclists can do is assume that drivers do not see them and be ready to take evasive action at all times.

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