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A psychological study by a professor at Texas Tech University finds that there may be a link between a common type of motorcycle accident and the brain’s ability to judge distances.

As a motorcyclist, you know how important it is to be totally alert as you approach an intersection. The Texas Tech study sheds light on the reason a car-motorcycle accident might well happen there.

The brain has its limitations

Patricia Delucia is the university professor who conducted the study, published in 2013. The study explains that the human brain has perception issues involving distances; for example, a driver perceives smaller objects to be farther away than larger objects when looking from the same distance.

The left turn problem

The researcher studied motorcycle crash fatalities across the country. More than 42 percent involved an apparent perception-distance problem, in that a driver made a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle, which, of course, is a smaller object than a car or truck. The motorist thinks the motorcycle is farther away than it is, whereas he or she might have waited if the approaching object had been larger and therefore more visible. Drivers who participated in the study said they believed a large object approaching from afar would hit them sooner than a smaller object that was nearer. Inasmuch as the brain appears unable to judge distances accurately, the professor concluded that this issue is responsible for many of the most common car-motorcycle crashes that occur at intersections.

Exercising caution

When a motorcyclist understands the problem a driver has in correctly recognizing the size of an object relative to its speed and distance from an intersection, exercising caution when approaching may become more of a priority. As a personal injury attorney familiar with car-motorcycle crashes will tell you, an error in perception can cause a terrible accident in which the individual who suffers the greatest injuries will almost always be the motorcycle rider.