Where things come together

Watch for Motorcycle signs in Grand Prairie Texas.” width=

The “Watch for Motorcycles” sign was donated and installed
Tuesday, May 29, in Grand Prairie by Allstate to help prevent
motorcycle crashes.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 46 percent of all multi-vehicle crashes occur at intersections. Often this is a result of one vehicle making a left turn in front of another trying to go straight through the intersection. In 2009, this type of collision accounted for 40 percent of motorcycle crashes. This is especially dangerous for motorcyclists. Being on a small vehicle with no surrounding structure for protection means a greater likelihood of serious injury or death. This becomes even more unfortunate because motorcycles are more likely to go unnoticed by the operators of other, larger vehicles.
There are several reasons why motorcycles are less likely to be seen. One is of course the smaller size and profile of the vehicle, especially from head-on. The image of a motorcycle head-on just doesn’t take up much room on a retina. But another, and probably larger, factor is due to the way humans process visual information. This has been studied at great length and there are thousands of volumes devoted to the subject, but it boils down to the simple fact that we don’t see what we don’t expect to see. If we look at an intersection for cars, we’re unlikely to see a motorcycle. I’ve done two previous blogs about visual perceptions as they relate to motorcyclists. “The SMIDSY” and “Now you see it now you don’t.” I won’t repeat those details here except to say that this is as much a physiological problem as it is a psychological one.
The previous two blogs dealt more with bikers recognizing and understanding this phenomena, and ways to lessen its impact. But another important part of the solution is to educate the drivers of other vehicles. Allstate insurance company has instituted a program called ONE (Once is Never Enough) that works to educate drivers to look twice for motorcycles. Working with Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) they have developed a standardized sign. Some of the first signs have been installed in Grand Prairie Texas, where a test program identified particularly dangerous inerrsections.
Hopefully these new signs will start to appear at other intersections around the country as other transportation agencies begin to adopt them. And hopefully we will see a decrease in the number of motorcycle crash fatalities as a result.

- Guy Wheatley

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