Motorcycle Accidents

Avoiding Target Fixation

Posted by on Nov 7, 2017 in Motorcycle Accidents | 0 comments

One of the great risks run by motorcyclists is not that other vehicles will hit them (although this is, of course, a great risk in and of itself) but that they will run into other vehicles simply by trying to avoid them.

That may sound counterintuitive, but it is the truth. By focusing on not hitting an object, motorcyclists can, at times, run directly into them.

The process is called target fixation, and it involves steering towards an object because you are so focused on it. An example can help clarify. A biker sees a big semi-truck ahead. The truck seems to want to switch lanes but can’t make up its mind. The biker gets nervous and keeps his eye fixed on the truck. Instead of driving straight, the biker ends up driving towards the truck because that’s where his gaze is pointing. When the truck does finally decide to move into another lane, the bike is right where it shouldn’t be and an accident takes place.

Now, the truck in that scenario is still ultimately at fault, but the biker has done nothing to help himself.

Target fixation is a real problem for bikers precisely because the vehicle they ride is so finely tuned to their every slight movement. When we stare intently at something, we often lean towards it, and that lean is all it takes to take a biker in a safe lane into a dangerous situation.

To avoid this issue, be sure to keep your eyes focused where they should be, not on objects ahead and not on the front tire but on the road straight ahead where you intend to drive.

If an object is suddenly in your path (whether it’s a pothole, an animal, a car, or that truck), don’t look at the object but look at the direction you need to maneuver in order to avoid the object.

In that same situation with the truck, the motorcyclist should not have stared at the truck but instead, at the lane, he would need to move into should the truck decide to change lanes ahead of him. If he had done that, the bike would have moved in the opposite direction, and no accident would have taken place.

A final point worth raising. This issue is far more likely to come up if the motorcyclist is tired. Being tired and operating any vehicle is always dangerous and always raises a number of risk factors, this is simply one more. If you are tired, don’t get on the bike. It’s that simple.

After all, there are enough risks for motorcyclists already. There’s no need to increase the list. By avoiding the risk of target fixation, that is one less thing to worry about on the road. Which means less danger and more time enjoying the ride.

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