Study on differences in visual attention between motorcyclists and car drivers

Study on differences in visual attention motorcyclists and car drivers see the road differently

A study by the british university of bournemouth supports the assumption that motorcyclists and car drivers have a very different perception of threats.

The study was carried out by the university of bournemouth in collaboration with docbike, a charity of doctors and paramedics focusing on two-wheeled cyclists. Am 21. January 2022 it was published that the current state of affairs supports the theory that accidents between car and motorcycle drivers are often due to the fact that they see completely different things – even though they are on the same route.

Four main parts of the study

The studies looked at participants with different levels of experience and qualifications in road traffic. They consisted of four main parts:

  • Determination of driving experience, training and annual mileage
  • Questionnaires on the general willingness to take risks and the need for excitement
  • Eye-tracking by viewing videos and images of roads with a high number of motorcycle collisions
  • Optional semi-structured interview for motorcyclists

the study was led by shel silva, a doctoral researcher at bournemouth university with a degree in neuropsychology and herself a motorcyclist since the age of 4. Year of life.

Security campaign

Threats are perceived better

The result: since our brain is particularly interested in threatening things in our environment, they are perceived preferentially. Historically, these were mainly large objects or animals. Today, translated to the road, for motorcyclists almost all other road users are. For motorists, this means buses and trucks as well as other cars: "consequently, a motorcycle can easily get lost within the field of vision, especially if there is a larger vehicle immediately behind the motorcycle.", according to one of the study’s findings.

And even if a motorcyclist is seen by a car driver, that doesn’t mean he will still remember him when he changes lanes. Especially after the winter months, car drivers are no longer used to seeing motorcyclists. Because a car driver does not expect to see a motorcyclist in the first place, the risk of overlooking or forgetting him is much higher than when he expects to see him.

Electronic guardian angels for motorcyclists from Bosch

estimation of the speed

Another difficult point is the estimation of the speed. The motorcyclist can more easily determine the speed of a car relative to a fixed point than the car driver can determine the biker’s speed. This is mainly due to the fact that motorcycles are smaller than cars. In the rearview mirror, it is also quite easy to estimate the speed of a two-lane vehicle thanks to the widely spaced headlights, since the distance between the headlights increases as the vehicle approaches. So the faster the distance increases, the faster the car, truck, or bus. It’s a different story for a single-lane vehicle.

"Lateral" movements improve visibility

The study also found that motorcyclists can increase their visibility by moving "sideways," e.g., to the side of the road moving, z. B. Towards the center of the road near the white lane markings. "Because the movement of the motorcycle can trigger a visual orientation response in other road users, drawing their attention to the motorcyclist.", this is one result of the study.

suggestion from us: observe on yourself if and how your perception changes when you are on the motorcycle/scooter or in the car. And do you still remember whether your perception as a car driver might even have changed since you started riding a two-wheeler?? Maybe one of the possible answers in our survey applies to you. We won’t make a study out of it – we promise.

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