Motorcycle AccidentsBlind Spots: Why Drivers Fail to See Motorcyclists

January 6, 20240

Riding a motorcycle can be an enjoyable and freeing experience. However, sharing the road with larger vehicles also makes motorcyclists vulnerable. One of the biggest dangers comes from other drivers’ blind spots – areas around their vehicles where it’s hard to see smaller motorcycles. Understanding these blind spots and why drivers fail to see bikers in them is key to reducing motorcycle accidents.

Physical Blind Spots

All vehicles on the road have physical blind spots due to their size and shape. For cars and trucks, the largest blind spots tend to be:

  • The rear – areas directly behind the vehicle that are obscured by cargo, tinted windows, etc. Drivers backing up may not see a motorcycle behind them.
  • The sides – especially by the rear pillars and mirrors. A motorcycle riding in a car’s side blind spot goes unnoticed.
  • The front – the area hidden by the car’s hood and windshield frame. Hard for drivers to see bikes when turning.

These physical blind spots exist even when the driver checks their mirrors and turns their head to look. The motorcycle is simply blocked from view by the vehicle’s body.

Driver Inattention

Beyond physical limitations, driver inattention also leads to failures to detect motorcycles. Driving requires constant focus and alertness to properly check blind spots. However, distractions like phones and dashboard infotainment systems cause drivers to not properly scan for hazards.

Fatigue and drowsiness also result in inattention. A tired driver may fail to thoroughly check their surroundings before changing lanes or turning. Motorcycles appear and disappear rapidly, and a delayed response means missing their presence entirely.

Assumptions and Biases

Moreover, implicit assumptions and biases cause drivers to overlook motorcycles. The act of driving relies a lot on the brain’s ability to fill in expected patterns efficiently. Drivers subconsciously predict what their surroundings will look like and tend to notice things that confirm these assumptions.

Since there are far more cars than motorcycles on the road, drivers tend to assume they will encounter cars. Their brains notice and register information reinforcing this assumption. Data that contradicts it, like a passing motorcycle, gets overlooked or discounted. These split-second cognitive biases increase errors detecting motorcycles.

Staying Safe

For motorcyclists, understanding and anticipating blind spots can help avoid collisions. Ride in visible areas of a vehicle, stay far from a driver’s side blind spots when passing, and make yourself seen at intersections. High visibility gear, horns and lights also help overcome biases and command attention from drivers.

Most importantly, everyone on the road should drive focused and alert. Eliminate distractions, keep eyes moving and check all surroundings thoroughly. Remember that seeing motorcycles requires an active effort. When operating heavy, potentially deadly machinery like cars, our brains can’t rely on assumptions – only continuous, engaged effort ensures safety.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury in a motorcycle accident caused by a driver’s failure to see you, contact us today.

You can visit our office at 16633 Ventura Blvd. #602 Encino, CA 91436.

Or call now for a free consultation on (818) 659-8588.