invisible gorillas and motorcycle safety

One of the most common sorts of motorcycle accidents involves a failure of attention: The driver of a car turns left in front of an oncoming motorcycle, failing to yield the right of way. In many cases, both the rider and driver report that the driver looked right at the motorcycle before turning—they looked without seeing. Such accidents could well be an example of the illusion of attention, our tendency to assume that we will notice anything important that happens right in front of our eyes.

For the launch of our paperback edition, we are conducting a charity promotion, and one of the participating charities is the BMW MOA Foundation, a rider group that actively promotes safety education through their magazine and Rider Performance University. I recently penned a short essay for the magazine and website on how everyday illusions and mistaken intuitions increase the danger for motorcyclists. You can read it here.

If you’re a rider (or a bicyclist) and have experienced a looked-but-failed-to-see accident, please share your experiences with readers in the comments. (And, if you pre-order our paperback, you can target our donation to the BMW MOA Foundation or to any of a number of other great charities).

2 comments to invisible gorillas and motorcycle safety

  • Hey!
    so last night I finally applied what I have learned from your book! Me and my boyfriend went to raggea festival near lake in Slovakia and were camping there as well. After midnight we left the festival and wanted to go to sleep. We started looking for our tent. There were hundreds of tents one next to another. I found the place where our tent was supposed to be but didnt see it at all. We circled 4 times around the area and havnt found our tent! It was dark, I was tired and I started to get nervous. Suddenly I reminded myself of your book and the blindness and even I was a bit drunk I was still able to think :-) so I was thinking what if the conditions in which we left the tent changed. I thought what if our tent fell down? Guess what happened? Right after that I saw our tent on the ground. We went around 4times and didnt see it because we were expecting it to be built just as we left it! I borrowed the book to my boyfriend then because he was confused when I started talking about invisible gorillas in the middle of night :-)

  • [...] Invisible gorillas and motorcycle safety – via Invisible Gorilla Blog – One of the most common sorts of motorcycle accidents involves a failure of attention: The driver of a car turns left in front of an oncoming motorcycle, failing to yield the right of way. In many cases, both the rider and driver report that the driver looked right at the motorcycle before turning—they looked without seeing. Such accidents could well be an example of the illusion of attention, our tendency to assume that we will notice anything important that happens right in front of our eyes. [...]