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Why do drivers fail to see cyclists?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2021 | Personal Injury

If a car were to knock you off your bicycle, you might wonder how the driver failed to see you. You might feel you were obvious with your fluorescent yellow jacket and flashing lights. Besides, you can spot a cyclist a mile off when you are driving. To understand better, it helps to know how the brain works.

Inattentional blindness can cause a driver to miss a cyclist they are looking straight at

When you learned to read, you did so one word at a time. As you got better at reading, your brain learned to fill in the blanks based on what it expects to be there. It allowed you to read faster.

The brain does a similar thing all the time. It focuses on what it thinks is important and fills in the rest based on what it expects to be there.

If a car driver is not expecting there to be a cyclist, they may fail to see them. Their brain may spot the blue car, complete the picture according to what it expects and move on.

Cyclists are more evident to cyclists than they are to drivers

You may wonder why you do not have inattentional blindness to cyclists when you drive. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, also known as frequency bias, explains this. Once we notice something once, we start seeing it more, especially if it is important to us. As a cyclist yourself, you notice cyclists all the time. The same will not be true for a non-cyclist.

Drivers are often not paying attention

Distracted driving plays a role in many collisions. When you cycle along, you will notice drivers doing everything from applying lipstick to pouring coffee from a thermos. Understanding why drivers fail to spot cyclists can remind you to take extra care. Yet, if a driver crashes into you, they are still responsible. Regardless of their arguments, you need compensation for injuries you suffer.