If you are a regular motorcycle rider, you will no doubt have had the odd close call where a driver apologizes and says, “Sorry, I didn’t see you.”
However frustrating those close calls felt at the time, you can learn from them. The crucial lesson to take away is that you are practically invisible to many drivers, as are all motorcyclists.
Are drivers blind or what?
You may wonder how anyone with two working eyes can miss you, especially if you ride a large well-lit bike or wear bright clothing. Technically drivers are blind, but not in the way you think.
The type of blindness that prevents drivers from seeing motorcyclists is called inattentional blindness, and it is a psychological rather than physical phenomenon.
When people see something, they do not piece it together bit by bit. For instance, when you see a house, you know it is a house straight away. You do not think, “ There is a door, there are some windows, there is a roof, it must therefore be a house.”
The mind has a series of preconceptions that help it make rapid decisions. So, when someone is driving a car, the prebuilt image they have is of a road full of cars. Thus, as you come into the edge of the scene on your motorcycle, they continue to see a street full of cars and do not notice you.
It also explains why you notice motorcyclists everywhere while non-motorcylists don’t. Because you ride a motorcycle, bikes become part of your image of the world. When you see a road, you expect to see motorcyclists on it.
Are you saying it’s not the driver’s fault they did not see me?
No. If drivers decided to look out for motorcyclists more, they would notice them more. It’s like how people have learned to expect pedestrians around the school gates.
If a driver crashes into you because they did not see you, it is typically their fault. Unless, of course, you did spring out of nowhere. It is their insurer’s responsibility to pay you the compensation you need. Be sure to get legal help to argue your case.