Motorcycle Conspicuity: An Evaluation and Synthesis of Influential Factors


Wulf, G., Hancock, P.A., & Rahimi, M. (1989). Motorcycle conspicuity: An evaluation and synthesis of influential factors. Journal of Safety Research, 20, 153-176.

Motorcycles are overrepresented in fatal motor vehicle accidents: The death rate for motorcycle riders of about 35 per 100,000,000 miles of travel compares with an overall vehicle death rate of 2.57 per 100,000,000 miles. In the attempt to reduce the frequency of automobile-motorcycle collisions, numerous studies have manipulated motorcycle and motorcyclist characteristics to enhance conspicuity. In this paper, we give a review of studies that examined the effectiveness of these measures. Subsequently, we take a critical look at the methods used in these studies to evaluate the effectiveness of conspicuity treatments. Furthermore, we identify factors yet to be considered in the empirical research in this area that may contribute to collisions with motorcycles. These include information-processing failures at the identification and decision stage, as well as more or less permanent factors potentially responsible for different information-processing failures. Transient factors related to the failure to detect motorcycles might include alcohol, fatigue/lack of sleep, inattention, and information overload, whereas more permanent factors might include “cognitive” conspicuity and fi eld dependence.

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