Seeing, But Not Perceiving: Why Other Drivers Don’t See Motorcycles- an Injury Lawyer Perspective

April 13, 2018
Jonathan J. Russell

ROSEBURG, OR, USA - JANUARY 13, 2014: Emergeny responders at the scene of a motorcycle vs car at a busy intersection that left the rider with serious injuries.

As a personal injury lawyer serving residents in and around Allentown, Doylestown, Bethlehem, Easton and Stroudsburg, with warmer weather upon us, we see motorcyclists getting back out on the road again. Unfortunately, with this increase, comes an increase in calls from motorcycle riders who were seriously injured; or from family members who have suffered the devastating loss of a loved one — all due to another motor vehicle operator’s negligence.

As a motorcycle accident lawyer, when we review police reports, we frequently read that the other driver told the investigating police officer, “I never saw him.” Sometimes, the insinuation is that because the other driver never observed the motorcycle, the motorcyclist “must” have been speeding. The reality is that the operator of the car or truck “saw” the motorcycle and its operator, but the human eye failed to “perceive” the motorcyclist.

In his interesting article in Road and Track magazine entitled, “Why You Don’t ‘See’ Motorcycles on the Road”, cyclist and author, Jack Baruth, explores the biological workings of the human eye, relative to the phenomena of failing to observe motorcycles and their riders.

Baruth asserts that when things are small enough and move quickly enough, our mind does not always “perceive” them, even though our eyes “see” them. In particular, since our eyes are only looking at a relatively small area, a motorcycle approaching head-on from a distance, occupies a very small part of a driver’s vision. If you don’t expect to see a motorcycle and you are only “looking” for cars, your brain will often ignore the motorcycle, even though your eye “sees” the motorcycle. This is particularly true if the motorcycle is approaching head-on and not moving sideways, across the driver’s field of vision.

Baruth goes on to recommend several ways in which we can improve the way we “perceive” what we “see”. The first step is understanding our vision better. By recognizing our brain’s tendency to use “shortcuts” to conserve processing power and attention, we need to make a conscious effort when we drive to look all around, including to the side of the road, in order to maximize our perception. Baruth concludes that the more you intentionally look around while driving, the more varied and better the visual information your brain will receive. With better information, you will then perceive what you see at a much higher-quality– seeing things that would otherwise be invisible to you.

Call a Motorcycle Injury Lawyer

For more than 30 years, the personal injury attorneys at Drake, Hileman & Davis, have been helping the seriously injured and their family members cope with the devastating losses that result from the “perception” failures of other drivers. If you, or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, call us at 1-888-777-7098, for a free consultation. We can meet you at the hospital, your home or in any of our five office locations. We will thoroughly discuss your case with you and provide you with answers to your specific questions, regarding such important concerns as the payment of medical bills, lost wages and property damage, as well as how you will be compensated for your pain and suffering. We will coordinate with all available sources of recover (insurance and otherwise), in order to ensure that you are fully, completely and fairly compensated for all of your losses and harms. If we take your case, there is never any fee or cost to you, unless and until we recover for you. We don’t get paid unless you do.