1 Nov 2012

What an RAF pilot can teach us about road safety

Londoncyclist has a great post on the congitive processes behind visual perception which has some excellent advice on how to ride in a way that tries to make sure you are seen and noticed by drivers. It's a fairly long post, but here's the relavant bits for bike riders:

•Ride in a position further out from the kerb (three feet is a good guide) as a driver is more likely to be looking in this location.

•Recognise the risk of being in a saccade. (This means not being seen by a driver- follow the link for a description) High contrast clothing and lights help. In particular, flashing LED’s (front and rear) are especially effective for cyclists as they create contrast and the on-off flashing attracts the peripheral vision in the same manner that movement does. There’s nothing wrong with leaving these on during the day. (Especially if they are rechargeable)

•The relatively slower speed of bicycles means that they will be closer to a point of collision if a vehicle begins to pull into their path. Turn this to advantage – when passing junctions, look at the head of the driver that is approaching or has stopped. The head of the driver will naturally stop and centre upon you if you have been seen. If the driver’s head sweeps through you without pausing, then the chances are that you are in a saccade – you must assume that you have not been seen and expect the driver to pull out!

•Recognise that with a low sun, a dirty windscreen or one with rain beating against it drivers are likely to have less of a chance of seeing you.

1 comment:

Dave H said...

Recognise that a key route for non verbal communication is through the eyes, as the phrase a picture paints a thousand words well describes the ability to communicate a complex message more rapidly via the visual cortex than any aural information.

Eyes can indicate consent to priority or other action. Pedestrians have perfected the 'You WILL stop for me at the Zebra Crossing glare through the windscreen of an approaching car. Go figure.

Above all make this the mantra for every road user "The only contact I want to make with another road user is eye contact"

As a closing codecil I would highlight that the eyes are only effective over a 120 degree segment at any one time, which actually narrows down as speeds increase above 20mph, and the option of the 360 degree cover provided by ears is an essential connected safety system - pilots use this through having alarms to direct their eyes to controls that require immediate attention. So no earphones, and for car drivers crack open that driver's window, like most professional drivers do so that you can hear those things which you might not be able to see.