Interactions between cars and motorcycles: testing underlying concepts through integration of on-road and simulator studies

We conducted on-road and simulator studies to explore the mechanisms underpinning driver-rider crashes. In Study 1 the verbal protocols of 40 drivers and riders were assessed at intersections as part of a 15km on-road route in Melbourne. Network analysis of the verbal transcripts highlighted key differences in the situation awareness of drivers and riders at intersections. In a further study using a driving simulator we examined in car drivers the influence of acute exposure to motorcyclists. In a 15 min simulated drive, 40 drivers saw either no motorcycles or a high number of motorcycles in the surrounding traffic. In a subsequent 45-60 min drive, drivers were asked to detect motorcycles in traffic. The proportion of motorcycles was manipulated so that there was either a high (120) or low (6) number of motorcycles during the drive. Those drivers exposed to a high number of motorcycles were significantly faster at detecting motorcycles. Fundamentally, the incompatible situation awareness at intersections by drivers and riders underpins the conflicts. Study 2 offers some suggestion for a countermeasure here, although more research around schema and exposure training to support safer interactions is needed.