This Is Target Fixation and See What It Can Do (Wrong) for You

Rider crashing at low speed 1 photo
Photo: YouTube capture
Of the multiple challenges new riders have to face when they throw a leg over their bikes and head out on the open road, target fixation is one of the worst. Not even seasoned motorcyclists are spared such troubles every once in a while, and it's more than once when experienced riders were involved in such crashes.
Target fixation is an alteration of the way a rider perceives the environment. It is triggered by the detection of imminent danger, but the brain's response differs from what normal conditions yield. Even though describing it as "paralyzed with fear" is a tad overkill, this description is not entirely wrong.

Judging by how a rider's reactions under target fixation differ from what decisions others would make, we could say that the brain "freezes." Instead of searching for solutions, the rider is only contemplating the obstacle, and this brings bad news.

You ride where you look

You've probably heard that a motorbike will head to the direction the rider is looking at, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that a rider staring at an obstacle will involuntarily take the bike in that direction.

This, combined with the brain's impossibility to make alternative decisions, often leads to crashes. How hard they are and how bad their consequences can be is an entirely different story, and it is strongly related to a multitude of other factors, many of them rider-independent.

Luckily, this fellow was not traveling too fast and neither had he the misfortune of running wide into incoming traffic or dangerous roadside obstacles. One thing is certain, this chap needs to take things easily until he becomes better at mastering the bike.

We'll run a moto how-to story next week, and we'll debate the subject more extensively, so check back with us.

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