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Why don’t some drivers notice motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians?

Traffic collisions occur for many different reasons. Sometimes, drivers make bad decisions. They get behind the wheel after consuming mind-altering substances or handle their mobile phones while driving.

Other times, crashes occur due to what seem like minor oversights. Drivers may even try to claim that the situation was out of their control, although that is very rarely the truth. Oftentimes, when a driver causes a crash involving a pedestrian, a motorcycle or a bicycle, the driver at fault for the wreck will insist that they never saw the other party at all.

However, proper monitoring of one’s surroundings makes it all but impossible to overlook a motorcycle or even a pedestrian under most circumstances. The drivers making those claims probably aren’t lying. Instead, they may have experienced a phenomenon known as intentional blindness.

What is intentional blindness?

People can actually look at something and never mentally acknowledge what they saw. The issue lies not in their eyesight but rather in how the human brain works. There are limits to the information that the human brain can process at one time. It typically needs to focus on one task or idea at a time.

Sometimes, people take in more information than their brains can manage, forcing their brains to prioritize certain information over other details. Driving creates that exact situation. People traveling at high rates of speed have so much incoming visual information that their brains cannot focus on all of it. They instead prioritize details that the brain views as important for someone’s safety.

Inattentional blindness means that someone will almost always notice a semi-truck barreling down on them in traffic but could very easily overlook a motorcycle in the same location. Someone can look right at a motorcycle or pedestrian and never mentally recognize that they have to adjust their driving habits because someone else is right across the intersection from them. Their brains don’t view the object as a safety concern and therefore do not focus on it. The only way to overcome this limitation is to intentionally look for smaller vehicles and pedestrians.

Those injured in crashes caused by inattentional blindness may have the right to take legal action against a driver who did not prioritize safety in traffic. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to clarify one’s rights and options under the law in this regard.


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