Spring is a prime time for bicyclists to dust off their machines and hit the streets of Seattle. Unfortunately, though, the number of cyclist fatalities has been on the rise in recent years. Even people who ride their bicycles responsibly cannot control the actions of others on the road.
Bicycle accidents happen for many reasons. Still, drivers often report not seeing riders in traffic lanes. Why do motorists not watch out for cyclists? Here are four main reasons:
- Distracted driving
Distracted driving remains a problem in Washington and across the country. Put simply, if drivers fail to pay attention to their surroundings, they may not see a rider. The following three types of distractions may cause drivers not to watch for bicyclists:
- Visual distractions, where the driver takes eyes away from the driving task
- Manual distractions, where the driver takes hands away from the driving task
- Mental distractions, where the driver’s mind wanders away from the driving task
- Time management
With work, family and other obligations, Seattle residents seem busier than ever. The road is no place to try to catch up, though. If a driver does not allow adequate time for the commute, he or she may be more likely to miss a passing cyclist.
- Inattentional blindness
All cyclists should know about the phenomenon known as inattentional blindness. When a person is behind the wheel of an automobile, he or she receives considerable sensory stimulation. To cope, the brain decides what information is important and what to ignore. Regrettably, drivers’ brains may cause them to look straight through bicycle riders without consciously registering their presence.
- Driver arrogance
Some drivers see cyclists as an unreasonable intrusion into their driving space. Accordingly, a driver may not be willing to yield to an approaching bicycle or otherwise accommodate a rider.
Because drivers may not see a bicycle, riders may need to rethink their approach to cycling to stay safe. While wearing protective gear is a good start, cyclists should consider taking further measures on the road, such as leaving extra space between their bike and other vehicles.