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Study Suggests Human Perception Errors Might Contribute to Motorcycle Accident Risk

January 20, 2014

Our Georgia motorcycle accident attorneys were saddened to hear about a motorcycle police officer who recently was injured when his bike hit a patch of black ice. Although the news source reported that the officer's injuries were not life threatening, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than occupants of passenger cars. This is a particularly hazardous time of year for motorcycle riders because of the risk that chilly temperatures will freeze causing black ice which may be very difficult for riders to detect.

Even when black ice is not present, the limits of perception may contribute to driving errors and cause motorcycle crashes. A study conducted by researchers at Texas Tech indicates a basic perception error that may contribute to a significant number of motorcycle accidents. The study looked at the way human beings process information about approaching objects based on size. Those who participated in the study were asked to watch a computer simulation and judge two differently sized objects that were approaching from a distance.

The researchers indicated that the brain uses two separate methods to determine the rate at which objects are approaching based on size. One method of estimating when an object will arrive is based on changes in the size of an object as it moves closer while the other approach is a mental shortcut that makes such determination simply based on the size of the object. When study participants were asked to determine which objects would arrive first, they consistently used the shortcut approach and picked the larger object even when the smaller object was on a more immediate collision course based on distance and speed.

The study results suggests that motorcyclists may be at-risk because of the relatively small size of bikes when compared to passenger cars, trucks and SUVs. This error in processing distance and potential impact could result in drivers of passenger vehicles believing that they can safely turn, switch lanes or pull out immediately in front of a motorcycles. While drivers who are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or distracted might be especially susceptible to such limitations in perception, it appears that even stone cold sober drivers who are focused on the roadway might also be inclined to make errors in estimating the distance of a motorcycle.

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If you or a family member is injured by a negligent driver, our Georgia motorcycle accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing injury victims for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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