Motion Induced Blindness May Impair Drivers

Whether you prefer to drive a car or a motorcycle, you may have some traffic frustrations regarding the other. Motorists often become annoyed with motorcycles, sometimes perceiving them as being too loud, going too fast, showing off dangerously, or being troublesome as they weave in and out of traffic (also known as lane splitting). Motorcyclists, on the other hand, often become frustrated by motorists who cut them off, seem to drive aggressively, and in speeding or running red lights or stop signs, often endanger their lives. Distracted drivers or those under the influence, whether in a car or on a motorcycle, also make road travel perilous.

As most motorcyclists are aware, they often just are not seen in traffic. Despite attention being drawn to the issue in recent years, the average person driving a car is typically not used to scanning traffic for motorcyclists. This leaves them open to vulnerability, usually when turns are being made.

Why exactly is it so hard to see motorcyclists? One theory is that motion-induced blindness may be to blame. In the simplest terms think of this like the blind spot you sometimes encounter in your car while driving. MIB is like having a blind spot in your eye, and is an illusion brought on by varying peripheral motions that will cause items—such as a motorcycle in traffic—to disappear. That intense focus you have in looking ahead may be the reason for the MIB; because of that, it may help to remember to shift your focus periodically. This is important while you are driving, as you are not only responsible for seeing people riding on motorcycles, but also other cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

In ‘Motion-Induced Blindness and Troxler Fading: Common and Different Mechanisms,’ a study released in 2014, the authors explained MIB more thoroughly:

“Extended stabilization of gaze leads to disappearance of dim visual targets presented peripherally.  This phenomenon, known as Troxler fading, is thought to result from neuronal adaptation. Intense targets also disappear intermittently when surrounded by a moving pattern (the “mask”), a phenomenon known as motion-induced blindness (MIB).”

We should all be more inclined to see motorcycles in traffic if we remind ourselves routinely to look, training our brains to see them, when previously we may not have. Making a conscious effort to look for motorcycles is especially important if you are making a left turn. Make it a rule to always look twice, checking the roadway in front of your car, behind it, and from both sides. And in all cases, remember to keep a safe distance so that the motorcycle has appropriate time to stop.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a motorcycle or auto accident, please call Heintz & Becker for a free consultation with one of personal injury attorneys. We handle all types of Florida personal injury cases, and our law firm has established an impressive record of verdicts and settlements. If you have been seriously injured, call us now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

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