conspicuity

Conspicuity as a Factor in Motorcycle Accidents (Motorcycle Accident Reconstruction)

Conspicuity as a Factor in Motorcycle Accidents (Motorcycle Accident Reconstruction)

Researchers have often proposed that when a passenger car driver violates the right-of-way of a motorcyclist, the motorcycles lack of conspicuity is to blame (or is, at least, a contributing factor). In relationship to motorcycle conspicuity, Hurt noted that “the most likely comment of an automobile driver involved in a traffic collision with a motorcycle is that he, or she, did not SEE the motorcycle…” (emphasis in original). Hurt continued: “The origin of this problem seems to be related to the element of conspicuity (or conspicuousness) of the motorcycle; in other words, how easy it is to see the motorcycle. When the motorcycle and the automobile are on collision paths, or when the vehicles are in opposing traffic, the conspicuity due to motion is very low, if it exists at all. Consequently, recognition of the motorcycle by the automobile driver will depend entirely upon the conspicuity due to contrast. If the approaching motorcycle and rider blend well with the background scene, and if the automobile driver has not developed improved visual search habits which include low-threat targets (such as motorcycles and bicycles, as contrasted with the high-threat targets presented by trucks and busses) the motorcycle will not be recognized as a vehicle and a traffic hazard exists.” Without discounting the factors listed by Hurt, it should also be recognized that his statements go too far, discount too much, and are not fully supported by later research. Though he acknowledges it elsewhere, physical obstructions from other traffic, inattention and distraction on the part of a passenger car driver, and lack of expectation to encounter a motorcycle are other factors that may account for a driver not seeing a motorcyclist.