London campaign to tackle driver blindness

Scientific reason for 'Sorry mate I didn't see you'

A Fresnel lens designed to help lorry drivers see cyclists

‘Sorry mate, I didn’t see you’. The refrain of many a driver as they scrape a shaken cyclist off the road.


Whether it’s a door in the face, or a lorry driver turning left without looking, motorist blindness is often the cause of accidents which leave cyclists at best bruised, and at worst, stone cold dead.

Now Transport for London has launched a campaign to encourage drivers to look out for bike riders.

A special film has been created, which challenges viewers to count how many times a basketball team passes a ball to each other.

But there’s a twist, designed to prove how easy it is to miss what’s right in front of you.

The short film was inspired by research at Harvard University, which found that more than 50 per cent of people studied failed to spot an obvious change in their surroundings.

This phenomenon is known as “change blindness” – only a tiny fraction of all the information going into your brain enters your consciousness. People often fail to see a change in their surroundings because their attention is elsewhere.

Even stranger, if you are concentrating on something, you can become blind to other events that you would normally notice. 

Transport for London says the research suggests “inattention blindness” is possibly the reason why motorists collide with cyclists.

The transport authority is also reminding cyclists that, although it is important for road users to keep an eye out for them, bike riders must also take steps to ensure they are seen by motorists.

TfL has begun distributing 10,000 free safety lenses, known as “Fresnel” lenses, to freight companies operating vehicles in London. 

The easy to fit lenses stick on to the passenger window of a truck cab, improving lorry drivers’ vision of cyclists who come within close proximity of their vehicles.  The lens is one of the tools of the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORs), which encourages operators to ensure best practice both for driving standards and vehicle  safety.


Click here for more about Transport for London’s campaign and more info on cycle safety.