Melbourne, Jan 28: Ever wondered why so many bikers are killed on highways despite the road being less crowded?
The answer could be a ‘surprise element’, which means that the truckers often fail to notice the odd motorcyclist on a high-speed road, according to new research.
The same could be held true for stationary vehicles on the roadside which claim a lot of lives.
“I didn’t see it, because I wasn’t expecting it there”, might be the more accurate excuse for motorists who have just crashed into a stationary truck or bus or even a moving motorcycle.
“Drivers find it hard to notice the vehicles which are less common on the roads,” said Vanessa Beanland of the Australian National University.
“Drivers have more difficulty detecting vehicles and hazards that are rare, compared to objects that they see frequently,” added Beanland.
Beanland and team conducted research at Monash University in Melbourne on how the so-called ‘low-prevalence effect’ increases the likelihood of accidents.
The team used a driving simulator experiment involving 40 adult drivers to investigate whether it is easier for drivers to detect and respond to specific types of vehicles when they occur more frequently in surrounding traffic.
The drivers had to detect two types of vehicles: motorcycles and buses.
The researchers varied how frequently these vehicles appeared.
Half of the participants were subjected to a high prevalence of motorcycles and a low number of buses, with the other half experiencing the reverse, said the study published in the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.
In the simulated test in which motorcycles occurred more frequently, the car drivers were able to detect them on average from 51 metres farther away than in the tests where they occurred less often.
In effect, at a driving speed of 60 km/h, this allowed the drivers an extra 3 seconds to respond.
Similarly, drivers had an extra 4.4 seconds to react to buses in situations where they occurred more frequently.
“The results suggest that drivers’ inability to always notice motorcyclists is partially due to the fact that motorcycles occur relatively rarely on expressways and highways,” stressed Beanland.
–Indo-Asian News service