Panic and target fixation can lead to serious accidents, particularly for motorcycle riders. Perhaps the best proof of this is a recent video that's been circulating of what happened to a motorcycle rider in Montreal, Canada.
Truck driver, Rob Nugent, was driving his truck at around 6:00 PM local time and was exiting Highway 40 and going into Highway 15 in Montreal, Canada. At that moment, a yellow motorcycle overtook him going into the exit. Immediately after, it went straight into the barrier, hurling its rider over the edge of the flyover.
Nugent was quick to stop and was able to get help just moments after the crash. “If I didn't stop, I knew that guy was probably not going to get found, at least right away.”
Local police and media were quick to point out excessive speed as the primary cause of the crash. However, any experienced motorcycle rider would clearly see that this guy is not going that fast at all. Chances are, the rider experienced what we call target fixation.
The motorcycle rider survived the crash and was taken to the nearest hospital.
What is target fixation?
Target fixation is an attention-related phenomenon observed in humans in which an individual becomes so focused on an observed object (be it a target or hazard) that they inadvertently increase their risk of colliding with the object. It is associated with scenarios in which the observer is in control of a high-speed vehicle, such as fighter pilots, race-car drivers, and motorcyclists. In such cases, the observer may fixate so intently on the target that they steer in the direction of their gaze, which is often the ultimate cause of a collision. It was first coined during World War II to describe fighter-bomber pilots inadvertently flying into their targets during training.
How to prevent it?
In motorcycle riding, a lot of riders with little riding experience tend to commit this same mistake. In fact, some experienced riders still fall victim to this from time to time.
The simplest way to prevent it is to simply look where you want to go. Of course, this is easier said than done. It takes time and lots of rider training to snap out of this trance and look where you want to go. It is best corrected through proper motorcycle training in a closed track or controlled facility.
For motorcycle riders, it is always worthwhile to invest in lessons to improve your skills and help you ride better, on top of investing in the proper riding gear. When it happens to you, it may seem like an unavoidable situation. But remember, we are the ones who are controlling the motorcycle, not the other way around.