Road Safety News
 

Experiment lifts lid on where drivers are looking

Tuesday 26th May 2015

A study which used eye tracking technology to monitor driver behaviour found that the drivers involved in the experiment failed to notice 22% of cyclists on the road, despite them being in clear view.

Direct Line Car Insurance commissioned the eye tracking experiment to establish where motorists' eyes are focussed. Participants wore special glasses that pinpoint the exact focus of the eye by tracking microscopic movements in the cornea. The experiment suggests that much of the time drivers’ vision is focused on “clouds, buildings and passers-by”.

The driver participants also failed to see 15% of motorcyclists, but in contrast spotted all but 4% of pedestrians who stepped into the road without using a crossing.

The study suggests that motorists who use sat nav devices are less likely to spot a cyclist than those who do not – 24% of cyclists were 'invisible' to drivers using a sat nav, compared to 19% for those not doing so.

Female drivers spotted fewer cyclists than their male counterparts, with 26% of cyclists unseen by women and 17% unseen by men. The same applies to younger drivers, with 31% of cyclists not seen by motorists aged 20-29 years, compared to 21% for those aged 50-59 years.

Vicky Bristow, spokesperson for Direct Line, said: "For the first time we know exactly where people focus their eyes when driving and the results are frightening. UK roads are busy and congested and as a result millions of cyclists are going unseen.

“Blaming motorists seems like an easy option, but this issue can only be really addressed if both motorists and cyclists accept responsibility.

"Encouraging all road users to be extra vigilant will certainly improve road safety but tackling an issue of this scale really requires top-down change.

“Successive governments have encouraged local authorities to adopt policies to make cycling safer, but our research highlights that this issue is still widespread."

*NOTE FOR READERS: the press release issued by Direct Line appears to have been removed from their website but has been supplied to us - click here to download the release.

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Maybe if they learned this things would be better: Stop at a junction then LINGER LONGER and then LOOK LONGER and then others will LIVE LONGER. It's repetitive so it might work.
Bob Craven, Lancs... Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)
+1

Probably nobody is reading this now but here goes!

Would I be right in thinking that all this talk of camouflage and the brain's inability to see things if they are not moving (apologies for the paraphrasing) is true when we quickly scan a view from a side road? When sat at a junction if I look "properly" along the carriageway I'm pretty sure I will see everything coming my way. If however I quickly glance I'm equally sure that I might miss something - especially a relatively thin cycle or P2W.

It is a conscious decision to take a proper look and one I take nearly all the time because I don't want to be hit by another moving vehicle as well as not wanting to hit one either! I think drivers "choose" whether to look properly or not so is the key to find out what leads them to make this choice and then find a solution? Is it just attitudes?
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)
+5

Hows about asking a driving instructor to do his job right and to teach drivers how to get out of a vehicle properly and with due regard to the possibility of oncoming traffic from the rear. To take a view behind in the mirrors and then, and this is the point, the glance over the shoulder as they should, as advised at times in the Highway Code and then, only then, when all is safe open the door. That's simple.

The problem is that instructors as human beings are by nature lazy and basically concerned with taking pupils through the stages for the examination. Around our way they allow a pupil to park on and off the pavements and on yellow lines. I have even seen them allow trainees to stop on the approach to zebra crossings, I believe to make the point that it is dangerous and illegal to do so.
Bob Craven Lancs....Space is safe Campaigner

Agree (12) | Disagree (6)
+6

"we can indeed do a great deal about overcoming many of the other perceptual problems, but we operate in a behaviourist industry where only fault and blame is understood"

So the task is to change that, right? Maybe I've got the wrong end of the stick, but "we can make things better than the status quo, but the problem is the status quo" seems a little perverse.

"It would require an enormous effort on behalf of a great many people so it's not surprising such things don't get done."

This comes across as "it'll take time, so it's not worth doing". Why not habituate safe behaviours for all new drivers from this point forwards? It wouldn't take any extra effort other than a driving instructor telling them to do it. Sure, habituating existing drivers is much more of a challenge, but to down tools because it's not possible to fix everything immediately ensures, again, that we are resigned to the status quo.
Bez, UK

Agree (15) | Disagree (1)
+14

The perceptual problems of which I spoke Bez were the one's that cannot be fixed by any amount of training or education. We are just born with these shortcomings in the same way we are born with an inability to lick our own elbow or see our eyes move in a mirror. You are right that we can indeed do a great deal about overcoming many of the other perceptual problems, but we operate in a behaviourist industry where only fault and blame is understood not how human factors can be tuned to advantage not disadvantage.

The little tale about the door handle is brilliant, but how much easier is it to put out an advert saying take more time to look out for bikes than to teach the door handle trick to all the drivers out there? It would require an enormous effort on behalf of a great many people so it's not surprising such things don't get done. We share a great deal of common ground Bez particularly now there is a growing understanding among many people that the behaviourists and their fault and blame culture have pretty much had their day. Let's get stuck in to neuroplasticity, habituation and all those other lovely brain-based functions as that is the only way we are going to fix the problems that face us.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (6) | Disagree (11)
-5

Duncan: "No, the idea that you can fix the many perceptual problems of the brain is a complete non-starter so a different approach is going to be needed."

It's a challenge, but it's not a non-starter. Note the article someone pasted a reference to below, in which an RAF pilot explains not only the basics of saccadic masking etc but also that fighter pilots are taught techniques for overcoming or managing such problems as effectively as possible. Is it a foolproof solution? No. It is a damn sight better than claiming it's "a complete non-starter"? Yes.

A vaguely related point: One dangerous behaviour is the opening of car doors into the path of people on bicycles. One might find the possible reasons behind this (lack of frequency of cyclists, natural distractions when stopping and exiting a car, etc) to be "human nature" or otherwise apparently insurmountable. But in the Netherlands, drivers are taught to check their mirror and — importantly — to open the door with the hand furthest from the door, because this rotates the upper body such that the mirror falls into natural view. Also I would suggest that the habituation of an action which is instinctively unnatural results in the implicit habituation of behaviours learned at the same time; namely, looking in the mirror.

Figuring out the reasons for unsafe behaviours feeling natural or instinctive shouldn't be seen as cause for saying a solution is "a complete non-starter"; it should be seen as the first step in developing a solution.

I would imagine that a Google for neuroplasticity, and perhaps also habituation, might show up some tangentially relevant examples of overcoming things that are assumed by many to be "unfixable". Should anyone's confirmation bias happen to be at a low ebb, that is ;)
Bez, UK

Agree (17) | Disagree (0)
+17

You did say Bob, that you had been in a collision with another car, despite your defensive driving and knowing the stopping distances etc., which is why I recommended the braking technique to gain even quicker and shorter stopping times - take it or leave it. With hindsight, what would have allowed you to avoid the collision you mentioned?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)
+2

Hugh, we learn from many forms and one is books. How did Duncan gain his vast knowledge if not from the ability to read and understand books? Most of his knowledge was obtained that way as I am sure in one lifetime no one can experience all that he has learned through normal life. So please don't disregard the Highway Code. I don't need to learn how to brake with my left foot as I give good distance between me and all other vehicles in front and exercise defensive driving at all times. So it has no relevance to me. However, how many drivers go out there and learn what the braking distances are in their cars? They just don't. Jeremy Clarkson did braking in one of his shows and showed everyone just how good modern cars were, but totally forgot the thinking distance so his figures did not include that vital element. The Highway Code was not a mile out.

PS: A 36 ton HGV will require about 3 times that of a car if not more. That's a staggering distance on a motorway at 60mph. It's no wonder they slow by hitting other vehicles.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner.

Agree (4) | Disagree (1)
+3

Strictly speaking Idris, you gave us an example of a collision you yourself did not avoid, not one that was unavoidable by others. As one who has consistently tried to downplay the role of speed in collisions and has, let's say, come to the attention of the authorities for speeding in the past, I'm not sure you're the best person to advise on 'unavoidable' collisions, which I and no doubt many others would have avoided.

Whilst it would be difficult to predict or anticipate a wall or tree coming down, the behaviour of other road users can be, and it's not rocket science to slow and be ready to stop in these situations.

If one can gain a split second of time and several feet stopping distance by improving one's braking technique, so much the better - I wouldn't dismiss it. I've been left-foot braking for years and don't go round colliding with things (mind you, I don't speed either).
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (3)
-1

Hugh - despite the example I provided you still do not seem to understand that driving carefully and following all the sensible rules cannot provide complete protection against having an accident. If my example did not convince you, how about drivers killed because brick walls or huge trees fell on them?

As for left foot braking - one problem is that our left feet have been conditioned to provide precise control of the pedal rising, the right foot precise control of the pedal going down. For that reason anyone using left foot braking will initially have problems in braking smoothly - try it - on an empty road.

I fully accept that anyone driving only automatics can learn left foot braking and when they have done they gain a fraction of a second in an emergency.

But anyone who (like me) switches back and fore from manual to automatic should not, in my opinion, use left foot braking because of the risk of the wrong response in an emergency - for example stamping on the clutch only to realise it is the brake.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (7) | Disagree (3)
+4

Bob: When I said '...knowing how quickly and in what distance we can bring our respective vehicles to a stop from any particular speed..', I didn't mean according to the Highway Code!

As I'm sure you know, one learns from experience with a particular vehicle how quickly one can bring it to a stop in any circumstance and this is more important than trying to learn if from a book.

I think I recall you mentioning your car is automatic and I wondered if you have discovered yet, the merits of left-foot braking which, once mastered, can reduce your stopping distance by several feet - crucial in the scenarios we're talking about.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (5)
-4

Hugh all the info on stopping distances is there in the Highway Code. Obviously the greater the speed the greater the full stopping distances required and not just the much to closer thinking distances only. The Highway Code s126 deals with the complete distances required as a minimum (for a car). The difficulty seems to be that many drivers believe the thinking distance only as being safe. After all they would argue they have never had an accident and so it must be safe. They say that if the vehicle in front shows its brake lights and they brake also in unison they will both come to a stop at the same time with no harm done. That is true. However that is not what the Highway Code says. It says that in the event of the vehicle in front coming to a sudden stop, that means with no showing of brakes at all and possibly immediately stopping having been hit by or hitting another vehicle, then the thinking distance alone will be far too close. Therefore the whole stopping distance is the only safe distance. When we look at the numerous rear endings that occur this is always the case as are motorway multiple collisions....they all have one thing in common and it's not high speed. It's a lack of total safe distances between vehicles.
Bob Craven Lancs.... Space is Safe campaigner.

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)
+4

If I'm right, this research is about saccadic masking. Here is a useful article explaining the problem:
http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/raf-pilot-teach-cyclists/
Nadeem

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)
+6

I have no such incidents to report fortunately, but if we combine Duncan's 'no surprise no accident' and Bob's 'space is safe' attitudes and we drive/ride with a safety space ahead of us, within which we can stop our vehicles if someone invades it, or 'does something daft at the wrong monent' as Idris says, then collision avoidance is perfectly possible.

Equally important is knowing how quickly and in what distance we can bring our respective vehicles to a stop from any particular speed. No doubt, the type of vehicle we are driving/riding plays a part as well.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (2)
+1

I have been in one similar circumstance Idris and that also ended up in a collision with the other car. The problem is covered in the no surprise no accident campaign and also my one of giving space. I remember when we rode (motorcycles - 1960s) defensively and anticipated everything as being possibly or probably dangerous. As we do not suffer accidents or incidents on a regular basis our mind becomes somewhat fixed on what we are apparently doing best and that is driving or riding safely, certainly sufficient for our normal everyday needs. However there is a danger that a degree of complacency and apathy sets in. After all why do more than we are doing as what we are doing appears normally to be safe enough?
Bob Craven Lancs .... Space is safe Campaigner

Agree (4) | Disagree (1)
+3

I can empathise with Idris’s experience, having had a similar one which ended with me being hospitalised for three months, and off work for six. Had I being riding at a walking pace, the other party would still have pulled out. I might not have hit him, but following traffic would be overtaking me for riding so slowly, and may even have presumed I was about to turn into the side road from which the car emerged. There is even the possibility that following traffic might have struck me from behind.

Little of the brain is utilised by most when driving, and distractions are many. What most appear to ‘look’ for at junctions are threats to their own safety – not others. There are limits to how much one can compensate for the inattention/lack of care of others, try as we might. Perhaps we should walk everywhere, but there’s no guarantee we wouldn’t bump into someone.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)
+7

Whitten - it seems that you have not read the report to which I provided a link. Hugh, in relation to your last two comments: About 25 years ago before traffic lights were installed here at the junction of the A32 and A272, I drove at a reasonable speed down the 1/2 mile long hill on the A32, which had priority at that junction. As I approached the junction a car approached it from my left so I my moved my foot to the brake and watched the other car. It almost stopped at the white line so I removed my foot from the brake and started to accelerate for the rise ahead. At that precise moment the other driver moved off again straight into my path. I could not avoid a collision but did manage to hit the rear end not the passenger area. Minor damage, no injuries but reported to the insurance companies.

This is a real-life example of how all of the precautions you suggest can be useless if the culprit does something daft at just the wrong moment.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (10) | Disagree (2)
+8

Whatever. But to avoid a collision - which is what we're concerned with - all the rider has to do is ride defensively, be ready and able to stop should the drivers ahead's brain let him down.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (4)
+1

Hugh, rather than looking for large moving vehicles and not two- wheelers as you suggest, the brain only asks what's moving now? What isn't moving that could move? What's figure and what's ground? Where will these moving/potentially moving things move to in the amount of time it will take it to do what it want's to do?

What we have to ask ourselves is how long the brain usually takes to actually answer these questions with sufficient reliability. If it usually takes half a second in similar circumstances why would anybody waste cognitive effort looking for longer and taking on board more data than is neccessary?

If a bicycle or motorcycle is decided to be ground not figure then it no longer features in the prediction and that's where the problem lies. This problem is the same for everybody of course so there is no 'their brains' only 'our brains'.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (7) | Disagree (3)
+4

Duncan: I think it's your proposed technique by bikers to help them be seen, that some are questioning, not the deficiencies in our senses which you've highlighted.

I think David of Suffolk has the better and more obvious solution which is for the rider to simply slow down, cover the brake, sound a warning if necessary and be ready to stop. Even if your rider waves a large flag and fires a flare gun in to the air, your method does not actually guard against the motorist pulling out regardless, whereas the common sense solution of being prepared and able to stop, does.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (4)
+3

As has already been pointed out the best way to avoid the deficiencies of attention which cause motorists to kill cyclists is simply to provide separated infrastructure. Pretending motorists can't see and then expecting their victims to compensate for it is simply ridiculous.
Whitten

Agree (9) | Disagree (5)
+4

Has the study taken into account the real-life behaviour of some motorists at junctions, when they are in a hurry and only afford a glance - sometimes even only to their right - when they should be looking and actively searching all around them for other road users? Some motorists see it as too much trouble at say, a 'Give Way' or even a 'Stop', to actually come to a complete stop, to give themselves time to have a good hard look. I think first and foremost their brain is looking for large moving vehicles and not two- wheelers with smaller footprints on the road.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (3)
+7

Just like to remind everybody that I didn't invent the human brain (with all its perceptual shortcomings) all I have done is learnt how it works so please don't blame me for pointing out all its problems.

Strong movement is the best way to break camouflage and attract the attention of the perceptually blinded human brain, this is an indisputable fact and although it may not fit well with the bad apple theorists out there it's true nonetheless. Bez, Whitten and others say that people should be taught to look properly and told how to compensate for the shortcomings in human perception which is a fantastic idea at first glance. Sadly though nobody has yet worked out how to teach a sure-fire method of overcoming perceptual blindness in all its forms. Maybe there is an educational intervention that could overcome the retina discarding over 99% of the data that reaches the eye, but I very much doubt it. A lesson plan that overcomes the 4 mili-radian per second movement detection threshold perhaps or what about a fun way of resolving figure/ground ambiguity? No, the idea that you can fix the many perceptual problems of the brain is a complete non-starter so a different approach is going to be needed.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (7) | Disagree (5)
+2

It is indeed a great pity that Direct Line has not, to date, released the report and data on which this press release has been based. It is impossible for us to make use of their findings on this basis. We will take this up with Direct Line.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)
+5

The cyclists are "in plain view" and the motorists are ignoring them. "Blaming motorists" isn't the easy option, it's the only rational option.
Alan, Cambridge

Agree (11) | Disagree (8)
+3

The drivers did not fail to view all the cyclists in plain view but did fail to see a minority of them. If people are capable of seeing most cyclists in plain view it is clear that they simply didn't look carefully enough when they failed to do so and should be taught to look properly all the time rather than pretend that cyclists are invisible.
Whitten

Agree (10) | Disagree (6)
+4

Any report or whose data and methods are not made available is inherently worthless.

Nor is this by any means the first time that where and when drivers look been analysed in this way. I recall but cannot now find an American study of 5 to 10 years ago that did exactly that for 100 drivers over a year. The main finding was that 75% or so of all accidents or near-accidents were immediately preceded by momentary lack of attention.

This link
http://www.fightbackwithfacts.com/motion-induced-blindness-sorry-mate-i-didnt-see-you-and-why/ leads to a detailed article on how the way humans see leads directly to the problem in question, and rightly in my view points out that it is not reasonable to blame drivers for failings arising from the system provided by nature and evolution.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (5) | Disagree (8)
-3

The article states "Participants wore special glasses that pinpoint the exact focus of the eye". That suggests that anything just out of direct focus of the eye will not be picked up BUT surely it will still be seen peripherally? I can keep an eye on traffic in my rear mirror without actually looking dirctly in the mirror. As to Duncan's point, I would be much more trusting of a person with a white stick and guide dog than I would be of someone without.
Andy, Warwick

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)
+5

Duncan MacKillop suggests that "the simple answer is strong lateral movement".

Might he care to explain how, when drivers frequently pass leaving far less space than is desirable even in a straight line and when many drivers complain with vitriol about perceived unpredictability and—basically—lateral movement, a cyclist should go about moving laterally without subjecting themselves to rather greater risk than the one they're trying to avoid?

I would argue that this is not "the simple answer" beyond academia: in reality it is neither simple nor the answer. There are three answers: habituation of compensation for perceptual/cognitive shortcomings, reduction of in-car distractions (and strong legal enforcement of such), and, most effective of all, the construction of safe infrastructure which avoids conflicts and interactions that are made lethal by matters of natural cognitive processes and poor driving standards.
Bez, UK

Agree (26) | Disagree (2)
+24

Duncan tells us that lateral movement will solve everything when it comes to our not being seen when on two wheels. It may help, but my position when approaching a driver whom I think has perhaps not realised that I am there is to roll off the throttle, move away from the threat, cover the brakes, consider the horn, etc. I do not engage in a weave while traveling towards the threat at unreduced speed - that will not reduce the impact if the driver does pull out into my path.

I also ask whether his weaving manoeuvre is suitable for cyclists? Motorcyclists can adopt it as they usually travel at around the speed of surrounding traffic, but cyclists are often going much slower, and for them to start weaving around in the road on the approach to junctions does not seem that practical.
David, Suffolk

Agree (13) | Disagree (0)
+13

We too requested a copy of the full report with a view to reviewing its suitability for inclusion in the Road Safety Knowledge Centre, only to be told it would not be made available, which is a great pity. It would be good if Direct Line would reconsider this matter.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (16) | Disagree (0)
+16

Good to see such a lively debate on this subject but such a pity that there seems to be no real detail about the methodology of the study. An email to the PR company asking for copy of study just got a response of "no you can't have that, but we're more than happy for you to have the press release"! (also missing that's where I got their contact details from in the first place!)

We all know this is a problem (don't we?) but until the details/methodology can be checked perhaps we should treat the actual results (such as they are) with some caution?
Tony S,Bristol

Agree (11) | Disagree (0)
+11

So, the cyclists were "in clear view", yet Vicky Bristow claims that "blaming motorists seems like an easy option" and "this issue can only be really addressed if both motorists and cyclists accept responsibility".

What is anyone on a bike able to do if they're in clear view and a driver still fails to see them? What additional responsibility can possibly be accepted?

"Blaming motorists" in this situation is not "an easy option". It's one of only two options (which are not mutually exclusive): one being to blame the motorist, and the other being to blame the system of training which fails to explain to drivers that they need to compensate for saccadic masking and other well-researched cognitive shortcomings.

Please stop demanding that victims take more responsibility for people in fast, heavy vehicles failing to see what they are driving those vehicles into, particularly when their clear visibility is stated explicitly.
Bez, UK

Agree (53) | Disagree (6)
+47

Tim asks why we describe a deficiency in the observer as if it were attributable to the observed? I suppose the answer to that is that if everybody knows and understands the limitations and shortcomings of everybody else in the system then they can make allowance for them.

If for example we were to spot a person standing at the side of the road with a white stick and a guide dog then the safest presumption is that they are blind to our presence. In such a situation it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the person stepped off the pavement so we must have taken account of the blind person’s shortcomings simply by noticing the presence of dog and stick. If we subsequently crashed into this poor person then wouldn’t it be our ‘fault’ for not considering the obvious clues to their condition?

Remove the dog and the stick however and our assumption traditionally flips to one where we think it is safe to assume they are not blind and can see us perfectly well. Now we know about the various forms of perceptual blindness and yet there is no dog or stick to indicate it then we have a problem telling if that person is either blind to our presence or can see us easily. If once again we crashed into this person is it still not our ‘fault’, or is that fault now attributable to the person themselves leaving us blameless? In both situations the person is blind to our presence and yet in one set of circumstances the blame for a collision lies with us and in a different set of circumstances it lies with the person.

Now we know thanks to the Direct Line study that 1 in 5 people standing at the side of the road is going to be blind to our presence Tim’s request for help with de-cloaking is entirely appropriate. The simple answer is strong lateral movement relative to the potentially blind person (usually one waiting to pull out and who has a gap in the traffic to pull into). It cuts through the perceptual blindness in an instant and renders a rider perfectly visible just through a gentle twitch of the handlebars. Full explanation of how and why this works can be found in the paper “How Close is Too Close” available on the nosurprise.org.uk website.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (8) | Disagree (6)
+2

The interesting part of this research for me is not the headline figure which is unsuprising but the detail. The differences in fixation behaviour based on age (most likely linked to experience) are not new but clarify a point about where inexperienced drivers scan for danger. The difference based on gender and location are particuarly interesting though and I think worthy of further experimentation. Also I would like to clarify an assumption below about the difference between seeing and perceiving. In this research it does appear that the cyclists go 'unseen' despite being in the drivers visual field (hence they are also unpercieved). Eye-trackers tend to monitor fixations and saccades, from what I can tell the researchers are saying that the drivers failed to fixate on the cyclists. This is most likely due to failures to percieve danger to others as part of a top down information processing system. It would be interesting to know if there was a difference between cyclists wearing hi viz and those not to see if the hi viz had the desired effect of switching the driver to a bottom up processing system.
Neil Snow, Nottingham City Council

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)
+7

I like Tim's road roller/motorcyclist comparison. I've been cycling on a main road with a vehicle waiting to emerge and turn across my path ahead and because I am 'just a cyclist' and not going to harm them or damage their car, they don't see me as a 'threat' or as a fellow road-user to be considered and often pull out anyway whereas, had I been in my car - at the same approaching speed and same distance from them - they would invariably wait. It's not that they hadn't seen me - it's more their perception of my status as a road-user at the time and in their immediate vicinity that influences their behaviour. Unfortunately, I think when it comes to care on the road, some motorists only seem to take note of other motorists and blind themselves to the likely presence of slower, more vulnerable road users, perceived to be further down the 'food chain' as it were.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (20) | Disagree (5)
+15

This is pretty scary, considering that you can assume the participants would have been on best behaviour. I have always thought there is a correlation between motorists’ propensity to notice and react to objects and said objects’ scope for being a source of harm to them. Hence the road roller is seen but the motorcyclist is invisible.

I am fascinated by the use of the word “camouflaged” in this discussion. To camouflage is intentionally to conceal oneself. A cyclist concealed by an A-pillar is obscured, not camouflaged. I am completely stumped by "perceptual camouflage", as perception surely is the domain of the observer not the observed. Why then should we describe a deficiency in the observer as if it were attributable to the observed? I understand that one road user may fail to spot another against a constantly changing backdrop, but hi-vis gear does not seem to make much difference to this. I wonder what the results would be if you conducted this experiment in Amsterdam, where the presence of cyclists would be more expected? I am willing to bet that the outcome would be more favourable.

But look, when I cycle I have no desire to be invisible. If this or any other study can lead to realistic ways to “de-cloak” me, I’m all ears.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (24) | Disagree (0)
+24

Sadly Duncan you have completely lost me and that is understandable as you talk in terms of psychology. I understand that to be an understanding of a person's make up ...of their past, developed by what they ultimately experienced in their past. As they were not born with a single concept they undertook education and became cognitively able to ask questions and make decisions based on their experiences. For most, education and training and experience become the basis of the knowledge they possess which leads them through the path of life. As they progress they obtain further knowledge through other experiences and the study of specialist books and perhaps further education and eventually they become what they are. They live in the real world and not the perceived one and if all goes well recognise and accept the need for social confines and restraints in order that they are kept safe and well and not injured by themselves or the action of others. Thus the rule of law was established. To establish and support wellbeing amongst society so that it and its inhabitants could flourish, progressing forward without injury or restriction.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (8) | Disagree (4)
+4

Sadly Bob this is yet another example of a fault and blame culture standing in the way of learning which in turn leads to many entirely preventable accidents. A bike or motorbike can be either physically or perceptually camouflaged with the physical reasons being easy to understand such as obscuration by an A pillar for example, but with the perceptual reasons being much less clear-cut. In order to understand perceptual camouflage it is essential to understand that the real-world as we know it isn't real at all, but is entirely constructed in the brain and so is subject to constraints, errors and biases just as any other model might be. The internal model of the external world is usually a pretty good representation of reality, but it's only as good as it needs to be in order to make the most efficient use of valuable cognitive resources whilst considering the circumstances in which the brain finds itself.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (10) | Disagree (4)
+6

Duncan
I would like to know what you mean by their own natural camouflage. An interesting notion. Or do you mean that they are not considered a danger and as such not considered at all. Being totally dismissed as being nothing to worry about. I have been seen many times by drivers who totally disregard my presence and pull out anyway because I am no threat. Or is it that we are so small and insignificant (as is a pedal cyclist) and due to that mere fact we blend into or somehow fail to be distinguishable within the busy and cluttered backdrop of the road and street environment.

I also believe that a bike ridden not directly in front of a driver's face but towards the nearside kerb is only within the peripheral range of view and therefore at risk unless the driver constantly looks that way and directly at the biker. Without complete vision and two eyes on the subject matter one cannot recognise a danger, possible danger, its location and proximity.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (10) | Disagree (3)
+7

This is exactly the sort of study that needs to be done in order to dispel the great many myths that have grown up around how people see and perceive the world about them. Such a shame then that the first response to this fascinating dataset is to encourage road users to be extra vigilant when it's not actually vigilance they lack. What the dataset shows is not that drivers are distracted, but that cyclists and motorcyclists are often not perceived even when they are in plain sight. Our studies have shown that cyclists and motorcyclists have their own natural camouflage that prevents them from being perceived even in the best of circumstances and if something is camouflaged then it perceptually doesn't exist. If it does not perceptually exist then its future path and position can no longer be predicted which if you are familiar with Stats 19 is a significant problem.

To find an average 22% perceptual failure rate in the driving population is something really significant yet I somehow feel that its significance and true meaning will be largely ignored which will be a great shame.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (16) | Disagree (7)
+9