One of the most common things for people in enclosed passenger vehicles to state after they cause a crash with someone on a motorcycle is that they simply didn’t see the motorcycle in traffic. While this may at first seem ridiculous, research into human psychology and cognitive function bears out the idea that drivers somehow fail to notice vehicles that weigh hundreds of pounds and produce light, vibrations and plenty of noise.

Whether or not someone notices a motorcycle driving near them on the road will largely relate to whether they bother to look for motorcycles. If people don’t stop thinking about sharing the road with smaller vehicles like motorcycles, they may fail to notice a motorcycle until it’s too late, and they’ve already caused a crash.

The human brain largely notices what it wants or expect to see

Although the human brain is capable of incredible things, it has many limitations in the way that it functions. Since it has to process so much information in a small amount of time in a traffic situation, the tendency is for the brain to focus on what it deems most important and what aligns with its expectations.

Some people don’t even focus on the task of driving while behind the wheel, but for those who do, their brain will likely care most about other vehicles that could pose a threat or planning the route the driver wants to take. Smaller vehicles like motorcycles, even those whose drivers have taken visibility seriously, such as wearing bright colors or buying a particularly loud bike, may not register in the mind or eyes of someone in a bigger vehicle at an intersection or prior to merging in traffic.

Although there may be a psychological explanation for why people don’t see motorcycles, that explanation is not the same as an excuse. Drivers who failed to adequately surveil the area and hurt a motorcyclist may be liable for the injuries and property damage they cause.