Gold Wing Road Riders Association

Louisiana Chapter M - Mudbugs

Deridder, LA

Motorist Awareness

MA Coordinators
Mickey Searels

May 2011

Below is an article written by Chapter B2’s very own Chapter Educator Paul W. Johnson. He is a Control Systems Engineer in the C &S (Communication and Signals) Department at Norfolk Southern. This article was distributed to approximately 7,000 Norfolk Southern employee’s. Since May is National Motorcycle Safety and Awareness month, I cannot think of a better way to reach a large number of people with such an important message. It is obvious that Norfolk Southern cares about Safety! Once again, Congratulations to Paul for such an excellent article.

Defensive Driving Focus Perceptual Blindness

Inattention Blindness or perceptual blindness is a phenomenon that explains that people see what they are looking for and screen out everything else. The study of inattention blindness explains why drivers overlook motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians on the roads. This study was conducted by University of Illinois Professors Arien Mach and Irvin Rock in 1998. You may have seen something about it while watching a video of people passing a basketball while a man in a gorilla suit walks through the crowd of people. A large percentage of people don't notice the gorilla because they are focusing on the basketball being passed around. The gorilla was an Unexpected Event

When driving, people are looking for cars and consequently don't see Unexpected Events. Motorists are looking for other cars and often overlook motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. It is hard for motorcyclist to understand why or how anyone can miss or overlook something as large as a touring bike, but think about this; have you ever bought a new car and suddenly noticed every car that is similar to your new car but hadn't noticed any on the roads before you became interested? My wife and I did that. We bought a Nissan Altima and suddenly noticed every Altima on the road. We would check to see if it had the same accessories and features while ignoring other cars that didn't fall within our filter of thought. Norfolk Southern has a lot of motorcyclists. You may ride anything from a sport bike to a fully loaded touring bike. That puts motorcycles in your filter of thought. Motorcycles mean something to you; therefore, you notice them more frequently than people with no interest in motorcycles. Trust me, I notice motorcycles. I also notice Mustangs, old trucks and every Dairy Queen I pass, but that's a different story.

So what does that all mean to us? May is motorcycle awareness month in most states. The push for the National Transportation Safety Board is to make motorists aware of motorcycles. As the Rider Educator of my local Goldwing Chapter, I'm constantly trying to inform the public of the importance of noticing motorcycles. We call it MAD - or Motorist Awareness Division. One of MAD's mottos is Drive Aware and Look Twice. Very good advice, but we still know that more than 75% of motorcycle accidents involve a collision with another vehicle. More than 50% of all crashes involving a motorcycle and a passenger car occur because the motorist did not see the motorcycle or didn't see it soon enough to respond.

Norfolk Southern employees typically do a lot of driving. We focus on many things to make us safer drivers and that is all extremely important and necessary. I would like to add to your bag of good driving tips the importance of noticing motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. As stated earlier, studies have proven that we have natural filters that prevent us from being alert to unexpected events but hopefully this reminder will make you more aware of my fellow riders. If you are a Norfolk Southern employee that happens to ride, keep in mind that you are the Unexpected Event and any rider training you can take to help you avoid a collision is highly recommended. Several Rider Education events are available to make you a more defensive rider.

Until next time: Be Safe – We'll See You On The Road!
Our Motto...
"Share the Road!"

Our Mission...
"To Facilitate A Reduction In Motorcycle Crashes With Other Motor Vehicles."

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