It is a regular occurs that cars will pull out in front of motorcyclists, and it makes local headlines more often than many might think. New research by Texas Tech University psychologists now suggests that the regularity of the situation is not necessarily a case of carelessness or ignorant driving. It may instead simply be a basic error in human judgment.
The coordinator of the Human Factors Psychology Program, Pat DeLucia, stated that her tests showed that small, near-object items can appear to be farther away than larger ones to the average brain. The study is published in the most recent Current Directions in Psychological Science release.
DeLucia, who is also a professor at the Texas Tech Department of Psychology, used her study to show how perception of objects within the human brain can miscalculate objects, size, and movement.
The findings within her study show that object's size affects the distance perception that may be the general basis of car drivers making miscalculations on the distance and speed a motorcycle is traveling in conjunction with their own movement.
According to the study, the brain uses two cues for judgment, said DeLucia. The first is the reflected object in the retina. It will expand as it approaches the eye, which provides the brain with information on when the object will make contact. Unfortunately, according to DeLucia, the brain also uses “rules of thumb” as well, such as various “artist” depth cues as a way to create a sort of shortcut. In those shotcuts, errors can occur.
“With computer simulations, we had a big, far object and small, near object approaching the viewer, where the small object would hit first,” she said. “We wondered if people would choose the big one, based on the artist depth cue of relative size or choose the smaller one based on the more accurate optical invariant. Unexpectedly, people picked the bigger object again and again. We found people relied on rules of thumb.”
The effect of size-arrival relationships can cause drivers to misjudge an oncoming vehicle like a motorcycle. DeLucia is hoping that she will gain the funding from the Department of Transportation in order to create education that will help inform drivers of her findings for such accidents. For some people involved in situations such as this one it may become necessary to seek the assistance of a Chicago bike accident attorney.
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