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  1. ITV Report

Short term memory loss could be to blame for some motorcycle accidents, according to Nottingham University study

Credit: PA

Drivers are five times more likely to forget seeing an oncoming motorcycle than a car, according to researchers at the University of Nottingham.

Their study found that drivers see but almost immediately forget that a vehicle is approaching up to 15 per cent of the time. In some cases, drivers have absolutely no recollection of seeing an oncoming vehicle, even as they were about to pull out of a junction.

The research attempts to debunk the idea that drivers do not pay enough attention to motorcyclists. It suggests that short term memory failures could be to blame instead.

90
Fatalities a year in the UK are caused by drivers pulling out in front of oncoming motorcycles

The study involved driving around in a virtual simulator that was designed to test their awareness of bikes. A BMW Mini was mounted onto a tilting platform, and a 360-degree projector was used to mimic the visual experience.

Typical interpretations...are based on the idea that the driver pulling out has failed to devote sufficient attention to the traffic on the road.

The most striking finding was not subtle biases in vision or memory, but the fact that in some cases there was a complete absence of memory, particularly for approaching motorcycles.

– Dr Peter Chapman, an expert in the psychology of driving

The scientists say that some of the estimated 90 fatalities a year in the UK that are caused by drivers pulling out in front of oncoming motorcycles could be prevented if drivers say “bike” out loud when they see one approaching.

5x
Likelihood of drivers forgetting to see an oncoming motorcycle than a car

They claim the ‘see bike, say bike’ approach “has the potential to be a major contribution to world health.”