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Small objects may appear further away than they actually are

A new study of human visual perception used a computer driving simulator to learn about the way people react to objects that are headed towards them. The participants were asked to look at a screen with animated objects in motion that seemed as if they would collide with the viewers. The test subjects saw two objects, a large distant one and a smaller one that was closer. The small one was programmed to 'arrive" or 'collide" with the viewer sooner. The test subjects consistently chose the larger object as the greatest threat, even though the smaller object would 'impact" sooner.

The results, according to the lead researcher, show that distant large objects can appear closer than small objects that are nearby. This may be why cars frequently pull out in front of motorcycles, one of the major causes of automobile-motorcycle accidents.

The human brain has two ways of judging time to impact based on visual information. The first is called optical invariant, which begins with the brain's initial perception of a moving object. The object gets bigger as it gets closer, giving the brain a good idea of when it will hit. Another way the brain estimates time to impact is by the object's size. The findings of the study show that people frequently judge time to impact based on object size, even though the optical invariant information is more reliable.

Regardless of the fallibility of human perception, drivers may be responsible for any auto accident that occurs. Most accidents are due to inattention or carelessness. A personal injury attorney may be able to investigate the case, identify the responsible party and seek proper compensation for someone who was injured in an accident.

Source: Claims Journal, "Vehicle/Motorcycle Accident Link to Brain Miscalculation: Study", September 10, 2013

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