Most riders have heard the expression “Safe riding is a skill more of the eyes and mind (mental) than the hands and feet (physical).”  This expression places the focus of safe riding on both visual perception and cognitive perception.

Visual perception

Visual perception may be defined as seeing and understanding accurately. For practical purposes, it is identifying clues in traffic that could affect speed, lane position or path of travel (MSF).

Cognitive perception

Cognitive perception includes, aside from the senses listening, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling, the way in which we deal with information. While perception refers to ways of obtaining information from our environment, cognition describes processes such as remembering, learning, solving problems and orientation. For practical purposes cognitive perception is accurately recognizing and predicting the behavior of other road users, recognizing road-based hazards and how to select and implement the most appropriate response.


Perception Studies

2018 – “Allocating Attention to Detect Motorcycles – The Role of Inattentional Blindness

This research concludes inattentional blindness (IB) provides a good psychological framework for understanding looked-but-failed-to-see crashes that occur with motorcycles.  

2016 – “Long-lasting Virtual Motorcycle-riding Trainer Effectiveness”

This work aimed to test the long-lasting effects of learning acquired with a virtual motorcycle-riding trainer as a tool to improve hazard perception. Virtual training was found to be highly effective and long lasting.  This result should be compared to the mixed effectiveness found for traditional hands-on physical skills training.

2013 – “The Effect of Sight Distance Training on the Visual Scanning of Motorcycle Riders: A Preliminary Look”

This study collected naturalistic data from a mix of novice and experienced motorcycle riders on a closed course and an open course. A custom data acquisition system was developed that monitored the motorcycle rider’s head motions, visual behavior, motorcycle speed, GPS location, and motorcycle pitch, yaw, and roll. The preliminary findings suggest that there may be a relationship between training, experience, and visual behavior among motorcycle riders. It is feasible to collect naturalistic eye tracking data from motorcycle riders of varying experience levels using their own vehicles. Technical challenges of collecting data with this new technology are also discussed.  

2012 – “Training and Licensing Interventions for Risk Taking and Hazard Perception for Motorcyclists”

The Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland.  This report identifies potential licensing components that will reduce the incidence of risky riding and improve higher-order cognitive skills in new riders. Collectively, the research findings indicate that evidence for the effectiveness of existing programs is sparse and implementation of interventions in licensing processes face several practical constraints. It was concluded that the process of addressing risk taking and hazard perception is qualitatively different to traditional rider training programs that focus on skill development for licensing purposes. The success of interventions to address risk taking and hazard perception within the licensing process is reliant not only upon program content, but also the teaching skills and support of instructors for face-to-face programs.

2005 – “Hazard Perception and Responding by Motorcyclists: Background and Literature Review”

This project is the first stage of a larger program of research into hazard perception training for motorcyclists. Future stages of the project will investigate what type of environment can be used to teach hazard perception and responding, for example a simulator environment or combination of off-road and simulator training. This report summarizes the research that has been conducted into hazard perception and responding, assesses what can be learnt from motorcycle crash data and describes current motorcycle simulators.

2005 – “Best Training Methods for Teaching Hazard Perception and Responding by Motorcyclists”

The research suggests that simulators are best used as part of a comprehensive rider education system that includes classroom training and skills practice using real vehicles, with simulators being used to training riders in situations that are too dangerous to practice using a real vehicle. The cost of sufficient access to simulators may prevent this approach from being applied to the general motorcycle rider LEARNER population. However, simulators may be cost-effective for training particular groups, such as individuals with high accident rates or professional riders. In the short-term, simulators may provide a useful tool for conducting research into hazard perception and responding by riders.  

2000 – “Hazard Perception by Inexperienced Motorcyclists”

This project by Monash University Accident Research Centre had two aims: (1) to investigate how hazard perception and responding is affected by level of experience as a motorcycle rider and (2) to assess the extent to which hazard perception and responding can be improved by specific training. This report presents the results of a literature review and re-examination of crash data as the first stages of an examination of the role of hazard perception in motorcycle safety. Based on the results of these first two stages, recommendations will be made about future directions for hazard perception training and testing of motorcyclists.