Attention and visual focus

To be attentive is not the same as looking at. With a little practise you can have a fairly good picture of what is happening in the rest of your field of vision, without moving your focus. Going through a corner and your focus is far ahead of where you are going it is still possible to see the curb or road border in your periphery.

The part of the field of vision where we see sharply is the focus area. The rest of the field of vision is less clear but we can still detect movement, colour and form.

When our peripheral vision detects movement we will automatically move to check it out. This reflex is called the warning reflex.

WIDE ATTENTION AND ACTIVE VISUAL SEARCH

An adept motorcyclist is not just sitting waiting for his/her warning reflex to alert him/her. He/she is continuously and actively searching for crucial information in the scene around him/her. Searching ahead detects things that will be important in the next few seconds. This also means you have to be aware of what is happening behind you using your mirrors.

Using the focus area, we can identify everything that is relevant to us. We need to keep moving our eyes to actively search for important information. The further ahead we look, the smaller our eye movement and therefore the less tired we will become.

Once we have identified the important points or factors, we now know their position and can then rely on our peripheral vision to monitor them. These points we will call reference points and could be such things as a child by the road, a car coming towards us it may also be the steering point we have chosen, a patch of gravel. With what is known as wide attention, we can keep track of them without looking at them directly. This visual search technique requires practise.

Hunt actively for information, to your front, sides and behind. Identify what is relevant, anticipate what is going to happen, then prioritise them. Monitor with your attention. Recognise when something moves or changes.

Using our peripheral vision is much less exhausting than focusing on every element. This is one of the reasons novice riders fatigue long before more experienced riders.

More to follow.

Remember safe riding doesn’t happen by accident.

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