Quick processing of visual information is crucial for safe driving and even more so for cycling. We all know that a split second of not paying attention is enough to get you in trouble when cycling in traffic. So there was a good reason to suspect that avid cyclists might be better drivers. Still, the results of a new study were surprising anyway.
Australian researchers compared the results of 42 experienced drivers of both genders with and without cycling experience in “flicker task”, a test for detecting changes. It is very similar to a picture game where you try to spot the changes between two seemingly identical pictures. In this case the researchers chose to show 60 typical road scenarios, and the change was either a road sign, a car, a pedestrian or a cyclist. Cyclists detected all changes more quickly than the other drivers involved. And they were, not surprisingly, much faster than the others at recognizing a cyclist in the images.
“The results suggest that cycling experience is associated with more efficient attentional processing for road scenes,” the authors said in a statement.
As twelve percent of all serious injury crashes are attributed to failure in detecting road hazards, cycling might provide good experience for all drivers. Would it make sense to make it part of getting a driver’s license maybe? What do you think? Let us know in the comments!