When you go out for a walk on city streets, take your bike for a spin or cruise around on your motorcycle, you are intensely aware of the other vehicles around you. You understand that your safety depends on how well you share space with larger motor vehicles.
Unfortunately, people in vehicles may not be as safety-focused. When someone in a car or an SUV hits a pedestrian, a motorcyclist or someone on a bike, they frequently try to excuse their actions by claiming they didn’t see the other person.
Why is it that so many drivers don’t notice people on the road? After all, paying attention to the road is one of the most crucial safety rules.
Drivers see things without mentally noticing them
To understand how someone in control of a multi-ton vehicle could avoid noticing the loud and large motorcycle next to them, you have to understand how difficult driving is for the human brain. You travel at incredibly high speeds, meaning that there is a constantly changing environment with multiple risk factors.
Your brain works in concert with your eyes to take in as much as possible and prioritize that which is the most dangerous. Big vehicles, problems in the road ahead and other visual input that signifies immediate danger to you will be what your brain focuses on after your eyes see your surroundings.
Your brain will filter out visual stimuli that it does not perceive as important or threatening. In other words, a driver could look right at a pedestrian and not cognitively understand that they are there because their brain doesn’t prioritize that information.
Not noticing someone is not an excuse for causing a crash
Even if there’s a scientific explanation for why drivers fail to notice pedestrians, cyclists and bikers, that does not excuse causing crashes with potentially catastrophic consequences. People in vehicles can overcome this particular issue by mentally prioritizing the act of watching for smaller vehicles and pedestrians.
Making a point to check your surroundings for people that you could hurt by consciously focusing on it can overcome the brain’s tendency to gloss over non-threatening visual stimuli. When drivers don’t take extra steps, they could wind up hurting someone.
The victims of pedestrian, bicycle and motorcycle crashes caused by inattentive drivers may be able to ask for compensation from insurance companies or even take legal action against the driver who hurt them.