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Study Motorists Misjudge Speed & Distance Of Motorcycles

December 8th, 2012

Recently, an article in The Huffington Post confirmed what our North Carolina personal injury attorneys had known for years. People either just do not “see” a motorcycle because they are looking for a car, truck or they misjudge its speed and distance.

Accidents involving a car, truck or any other vehicle usually results in serious injuries or death to the motorcyclist. They are vulnerable because they have little or no protection other than a helmet, if that, and impact with the pavement or another vehicle can cause irreparable damage. Sadly, even though motorcyclists have just as many rights and responsibilities as any other motorist, they are the ones that usually suffer the brunt of the impact.

A study conducted by Patricia DeLucia, a perception specialist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas reveals that a fundamental perception problem might be causing these accidents. It is possible that the reason motorists routinely misjudge a motorcycle’s speed and distance is its size.

Essentially, when motorists see an object in the distance their brains take into account two pieces of information. One is derived from an objective calculation based on size of the object and the rate of expansion as it gets closer. Another piece of information comes from depth clues as a mental shortcut. In processing this data, our brain concludes that the bigger an object is, the closer it is. Often, this is not always true.

Undoubtedly, when observing a motorcyclist approaching another motorist is more likely to inaccurately calculate its distance away than another car or truck. This causes accidents by pulling out in front of them, changing lanes into them and rear ending them.

Because of our beautiful scenery and winding roadways, North Carolina is a very attractive place for motorcyclists. Unfortunately, the number of fatalities has continued to rise. In 2010 there were 20% more motorcycle fatalities than in 2009. Another tragic statistic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that 80% of accidents involving motorcycles result in serious injury or fatalities. That compares to only 20% for accidents involving cars.

Riding a motorcycle can be lots of fun. Some riders simply love the independence it gives them. Some like the feel of the wind in their face and hair. Others love to feel the vibration and hear the sound of their bike. Many new friends are made while riding alone or in groups. You just need to beware of the fact that other motorists either don’t “see” a motorcycle or they drastically misjudge distances, if they do.

If you, a family member or friend have suffered serious and disabling injuries or lost a loved one in a fatal motorcycle accident, you need to seek advice from an experienced North Carolina motorcycle crash attorney.

Auger & Auger is a Charlotte, North Carolina law firm with over 40 years combined experience in handling a wide variety of serious personal injury and wrongful death cases, including motorcycle accidents.

We have five offices conveniently located in Charlotte (3), Raleigh (1) and Greensboro (1).

Contact us through our website or call directly at for a free consultation. All of our cases are handled on a contingency basis so there is no fee unless a recovery is made.

Other Resources:

Crash! Collisions in the Mind’s Eye , The Huffington Post, Article by Wray Herbert, November 28, 2012

Related Blog Posts:

Caution! Curves Ahead, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog,
September 28, 2012

Fatal Motorcycle Accidents Are On The Rise in North Carolina, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 11, 2012

Posted In: Car Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Wrongful Death