What is "Target Fixation"?


Imagine yourself riding your bike on a street at a speed of maybe 35-40 kilometers per hour.

Traffic is OK, there are plenty of spaces between cars and jeepneys and you’re on a “slow pace” mode.

Then there’s this pedestrian who darted his way across the street about 10 meters in front of you.

“Hey, piece of cake,” you said to yourself, confident that you’ll be able to easily ride your way around him. But for some reason, the more you train your eye at the crossing pedestrian the more you find yourself riding straight at him. Then CRAAASH!

Experts call this, “target fixation” which is common in accidents involving pedestrians crossing the street. Sometimes it’s not a pedestrian. Sometimes it involves a light post, a car in the middle of the street, or a rock lying near a curb.

The effects can be deadly. Aside from accidents involving pedestrians, target fixation also causes riders and their motorcycles to overshoot while making tight turns.

According to James Davis’s article on Motorcycle Tips and Techniques, “fixating on something” means not being able to remove you attention from a certain object.

“In the case of riding motorcycles, for example, this leads to the phenomena wherein our motorcycles tend to go in the direction we are looking and is usually described with an example familiar to all — that if you see a pothole in the street ahead of you and don’t take your eyes off it you are likely to hit it,” said Davis.

According to Davis to avoid crashing due to “target fixation,” you should use it to avoid accidents.

How do we do that?

“Don’t look at the oncoming truck/tree/pothole; figure out where you would rather be and fixate on that instead,” he said.

This is why the Ride Guardians coined the phrase “kung saan ka nakatingin, doon ka dadalhin.”

The truth is, it is easier said than done.

But by constantly practicing to try to look with your head and not with your eyes, you will be able to avoid getting overly fixated on the things you see on the streets. Continuous scanning of the road ahead will also help prevent you from fixating on one object.

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