Riders aren’t just common victims of SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I didn’t See You) crashes, but could also be the victims of SMIFISY.
It stands for “Sorry Mate I Forgot I Saw You” and it’s been discovered by a University of Nottingham study into crashes where drivers failed to give way to motorcycles.
The info researchers call it “Saw But Forgot” It should be calle SMIFISY!
Basically they say drivers see riders, but their short-term memory forgets.
The result is they pull out in front of the rider, resulting in a crash, often with dire consequences for the rider.
The uni researchers said drivers are five times more likely to forget seeing a motorcycle than a car.
There have been many other scientific studies into this sorry phenomenon with several different reasons (excuses) provided.
The Alliance of British Drivers produced the following video which explains one of the scientific principles of SMIDSY called saccadic masking.
In another study, a Texas Tech University psychologist found that people think smaller objects – such as riders – are further away than they appear and, conversely, that bigger objects are closer.
Other reasons/excuses for the sorry phenomenon is that motorcycles present less of a threat to a driver, it is more difficult to gauge approaching speed of a small vehicle and drivers just don’t care about the lives of “deathwish” riders.
This latest study has the ungainly title “The ‘Saw but Forgot’ error: A role for short-term memory failures in understanding junction crashes?” and is published in Californian non-profit science and medicine research hub PLOS One.
It found that drivers are distracted between when they notice the motorcycle and when they decide to pull out with 15% forgetting they even saw the bike.
In 180 simulation experiments, participants failed to report a car three times but failed to report a motorbike 16 times, despite looking directly at them on 11 of those occasions.
“Drivers were more likely to forget an oncoming motorcycle if they had made several head movements between looking at it and the subsequent memory test,” the report found.
Research spokesman Dr Peter Chapman suggests that drivers say out loud the word “bike” when they see a motorcycle approaching to strengthen their memory and stop it being overwritten by their brain.
“If relevant visual information is encoded phonologically (that means spoken out loud) it has been shown that it is no longer subject to visuospatial interference,” he says.
image: wearing the head-mounted eye-tracking glasses