Iowa drivers may be better at watching for motorcycles than drivers in other states. An Australian driving-simulator study suggests that people are more aware of the vehicles they routinely see on the road. Iowa is third in the U.S. for motorcycle ownership per capita. One out of every 18 Iowans owns a bike.
Motorcycle accidents usually occur because a driver failed to see the motorcycle, saw it too late, or misjudged the bike’s speed and distance. The attorneys at Hupy and Abraham have often heard car and truck drivers say, “I looked but I didn’t see the motorcyclist.”
Researchers at the Australian National University used a driving simulator to study how 40 adult volunteers detected and responded to motorcycles and buses on the road in an attempt to explain why drivers don’t see bikes.
Bikes are small and riders often wear bright colors, so the researchers decided to compare them to buses. Both types of vehicles are relatively rare on the road. Half of the participants were shown a traffic stream with many cars, a high number of motorcycles (three per minute), and a low number of buses (one every eight minutes). The other half were shown a traffic steam of many cars, many buses (three per minute), and few motorcycles (one every eight minutes). The participants drove for one hour and were told to press a button each time they saw a motorcycle or a bus.
The researchers found that the participants tended to pay more attention to the type of vehicle that they saw more of during the driving simulation. They also detected these vehicles faster. The participants who saw more motorcycles were able to detect the bikes an average of 167 feet—about three seconds at driving speed—before those who saw motorcycles less often. The drivers who saw more buses were able to detect the buses 4.4 seconds faster.
This may not seem like a big deal, but every second can count when preventing a motorcycle accident. Three seconds is enough time for a driver to swerve out of the way, slow down, or stop his vehicle.
The study was published in the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.
We may have plenty of motorcycles in Iowa, but motorcycle-car accidents still happen. Help Hupy and Abraham raise awareness of motorcycles on Iowa roads. Request your free “Watch for Motorcycles“ bumper sticker. You can follow the link or call 888-807-2752.