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Do drivers actually see motorcycles?

When a motorcycle accident happens, there is sometimes a fair amount of confusion. The driver of the car insists that they never saw the bike, sometimes assuming that the motorcyclist must have been speeding. The rider, on the other hand, insists that the driver looked right at them and must have seen them. Who is right?

The strange reality is that they may both be right. Studies have found that the human eye often cannot process information fast enough, especially with small and unexpected objects — like a motorcycle — to make what it sees really lodge in the person’s brain. In some cases, that person sees what they remember or what they expect to see, not what is really there.

The result is that the driver may have looked directly at the motorcycle without ever seeing it. If they then cut the bike off and acted perplexed about where it came from, it’s not an act. The driver did not know it was there, or did not fully comprehend it, until impact.

It’s easy to imagine how this makes the driver think that the motorcyclist was speeding and caused the accident, even if that is not the case. They know they looked. They assume — wrongly, as the science shows — that they saw everything when they looked. The accident happened because the driver just did not slow down and take the time to really see what was on the road in front of them.

If you get injured in one of these accidents, be sure you know what rights you have to financial compensation.