SMIDSY – “Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You”

SMIDSY – “Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You”

See also:
Why Motorcycles Appear To be Invisible!……….sometimes

I made Eye contact with the other driver



SMIDSY – A Bikers Revenge 🙂(See below – you must watch this movie!)

IAM tip – Use your horn to warn

Why Do Car Drivers Fail To See Bikes?

Some advice



Why are so many road accidents caused by road users failing to see one another?

How many of us have heard this tiresome excuse?

How many haven’t survived to hear it?

Motorists apparently “looking” but failing to SEE!!……drivers failing especially  to notice motorcycles!!!

SMIDSY – a definition from Wikipedia
The acronym SMIDSY, short for “sorry mate, I didn’t see you”, is used by British and Australian motorcyclists and cyclists to describe collisions in which a car driver fails to perceive a two-wheel user (see motorcycle safety). It is estimated by the UK Department of Transport that SMIDSY incidents account for around 25% of all motorcycle accidents.[1]

There is good evidence that drivers may in fact see at the subconscious level, but that this is not translated to the conscious as the brain does not perceive the other as a threat, so a driver may be able to see a bipedaller, but not transfer this information into an action of adjusting their automobile. Another theory is that drivers simply don’t expect to see a two wheeled vehicle, so they are missed even when wearing high conspicuity clothing or using lights.[2]

These collisions may be recorded as failure to see, or as simply right-of-way violations

Accidents involving motorbikes at junctions are commonplace. In a typical case, a car will pull across the path of a motorbike and the driver will say to the motorcyclist after: “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”. This type of accident is so commonplace that “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you” now has a well known acronym: SMIDSY

Most if not all of us have had close calls (at least!) as a result of car / other vehicle drivers not looking properly before they pull out of a junction, change lane etc….some of us have been actual victims of the SMIDSY ‘effect’ (22 months on from my accident 22June2006 and I’m still hobbling around and not long since ditched my crutches…see the Image Gallery😉 and worst of all, many motorcycle riders are killed every year in these type of road traffic accidents / incidents.

Of course motorcyclists must play their part in trying to reduce the likelihood of their being victims of these incidents and not just lay the blame on the car (other vehicle) drivers after the fact. Wear hi-vis gear, ride with your headlight/dip beam on, riding plan, positioning on the road, never assume you have been seen, advanced motorcycle rider training (e.g. IAM Advanced Rider Training – Learn to ride to a system, A skill for life). We’re seeing more driver awareness initiatives such as the Government’s TV campaigns and the THINK! motorcycle safety campaign encouraging drivers in an urban environment to “THINK! Take longer to look for bikes”, through TV and radio ads but it’s not enough. We need to be aware of the danger and ride accordingly!

SMIDSY – A Bikers Revenge 🙂

Devon County Council are to be applauded for their excellent motorcycle safety video shown above. Bikers are very vulnerable when 2 tonnes of steel, glass and rubber suddenly emerge from a side road, so any message which reminds motorists of the need to look out is very welcome. This should be shown on national TV!
Read more and download the video and/or screensaver on Devon’s bike safety website –

Dont Take It In – Ever glanced at your watch and had to look again because you didn’t register what time it is?………………… SOMETIMES A QUICK GLANCE ISN’T ENOUGH! (mp3 audio file)

IAM tip – Use your horn to warn
Driving tip 30 May 2007

When was the last time you sounded your horn? Many drivers rarely sound their horn at all, because they feel that it can be interpreted as being aggressive. The danger of this is that if an emergency were to occur, they may have difficulty actually finding it. On the other hand, some drivers seldom go through the day without sounding theirs.

Typical reasons drivers have for sounding the horn include, reminding the driver in front that the traffic lights have now changed to green and they should get moving or to blast someone for pulling out in front of them. In other words, for correcting another driver’s mistakes.

In fact, the whole purpose of the horn is to warn other road users of your presence. They may not have noticed you or simply cannot see you. Either way, this represents a risk. In the example above, where a driver pulls out in front of you, the horn should be sounded before the other driver pulls out (so that you can prevent it) rather than after they have pull out (as a rebuke).

Ideally you should consider sounding your horn on approach to any hazard. This does not mean of course that you actually have to use it each time, just consider it. Generally speaking, the best time to sound your horn is after you have already adjusted your position and speed for the hazard. At this point the horn serves as a warning instrument when you have already minimised the risk (you still have other options available to you if necessary). This is preferable to sounding your horn and hoping the other driver reacts correctly. If they don’t, you may not have enough time or space to stop. Sometimes children, the elderly or those with a hearing disability may not hear you at all.

You should adjust the length of the horn note to suit the particular circumstances at the time. As a general rule, the closer you are to the hazard, the shorter the note to be used because you don’t want to startle someone. On the other hand, if you are well back from the hazard or if there is less chance of the horn being heard because of background noise or at higher speeds, a longer note could be considered. In situations where you are not able to see other road users such on approach to blind bends or hump back bridges, a longer horn note may be appropriate.

Either way, the overall principle is that the other road user should have time to hear the horn, recognise the risk and have time to react. Use your horn as you would your own voice and you won’t go too far wrong.
(AndyW – motorcycle horns are feable! Invest in a decent replacement horn such as STEBEL MAGNUM HORN 136dB and be heard! 🙂

Why Do Car Drivers Fail To See Bikes?
Sourced from Motorcycle News 21/06/2006, Written by Tom Rayner

MCN has teamed up with leading UK scientists in a world-first investigation to finally prove that car drivers can’t see bikers. Professor Geoff Underwood from Nottingham University has received EU funding to carry out groundbreaking tests to find out why car drivers: “look, but fail to see motorcyclists”.

Armed with a state-of-the-art EyeMark eye-tracker camera and a series of photos, provided by MCN, Professor Underwood’s team is set to test car drivers in laboratory conditions to find out exactly what they do and don’t see.
Professor Underwood said: “I want to cut the number of SMIDSY (Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You) type accidents. I want to solve the phenomenon of the ‘looked but failed to see’ accident.”

To do so he will show the participants a series of photographs of various road traffic scenarios and use the EyeMark camera to track their pupil movement.
The sophisticated technology can tell the Professor exactly when and where the car drivers are looking. In every image is a motorcyclist, in various levels of prominence. The test will attempt to discover when a rider is most visible.
The results will discover what a driver looks at first and why. For example, if bright colours attract the attention or if the drivers can spot potential hazards.

Professor Underwood has dedicated his professional career in cognitive psychology with the relationship between visual attention and skill.

He explained to MCN how a car driver waiting at a junction could look straight at an approaching biker and still fail to see them, thus causing an accident.

“The easiest way to explain this phenomenon is with the gorilla experiment,” said Underwood. “A group of American students shot a film which asked the viewer to count the number of catches a group of basketball players in white tops made. Another group in black tops were also passing the ball to one another at the same time.
“You are so busy trying to watch the white team that you completely miss the fact that a man in a gorilla suit walks into the middle of the screen and waves at you. It’s only when you watch the film for a second time and are told to look for a gorilla that you see it – you won’t believe you missed it first time because it’s so obvious.

“The theory is the same for car drivers – they sit at a junction looking left and right for oncoming cars, vans and lorries. Because they’re not expecting to see a motorcyclist then they don’t see a motorcyclist. “they have a hypothesis of what they think is going to happen in the world and stick to it. “it’s for exactly this reason that I think the DfT’s ‘Think Bike’ signs at the road side will focus the concentration of car drivers to consider motorcyclists.”

If you want to see how the experiment works then try it on your friends and colleagues. View it at: Movie 15 (AndyW – it was really obvious to me so I guess you’d want to try this out on someone who doesn’t know to look for a gorilla… 😉

Do what ever you can to draw their attention

What you wear can make a difference some of the time. You need to be within the other driver’s line of vision and your clothing must stand out against the background.

In one recent New Zealand study, riders wearing any reflective or fluorescent clothing had a 37% lower risk than other riders. Riders wearing white helmets had a 24% lower risk than those wearing black helmets. The study was conducted in mainly urban areas of Auckland (Wells et al, 2004).

By comparison, a summary of European research into safety measures for motorcyclists concluded that florescent clothing is effective during daylight but not against a bright background. They also found that retroflective clothing gives little improvement at night (Noordzij et al, 2001).

Day time headlights may also help but again, only if they make you stand out against the rest of the traffic. In the NZ study, riders with lights on during the day had a 27% lower risk.

Size does appear to make a difference. Small motorcycles have a smaller profile and are even less visible from the front or rear. You need all the help you can get to stand out.

♦  Do not ever assume they have seen you.
♦  Do not weave between lanes in moving heavy traffic.
♦  Learn to recognise each vehicle’s blind spot and stay out of them.
♦  Try to stay long enough in each driver’s rear vision mirror to make sure they have
    seen you before you move on.
♦  Use your horn or rev your engine to draw attention if you think you haven’t been seen.
♦  Move within your lane to improve your chance of being seen.
♦  When riding in traffic and your lane is moving freely but the lane beside you has
    slowed or stopped, watch out for impatient drivers suddenly moving into your lane.


THINK! Motorcycle Safety Campaign

South Gloucestershire Council’s SMIDSY campaign
What people say about Smidsy – emails sent to South Gloucestershire Council in response to their SMIDSY campaign. There’s also other pages worth a read: Drivers – tips for driving ~ How many accidents and where? ~ Riders – tips for riding ~ Tell us what you think ~ Why don’t people see motorcyclists?

Motorcycle Action Group How Close Is Too Close? Concerning Car Collisions and Motorcycles. The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK) has undertaken an investigation to identify the cause of accidents involving cars and motorcycles at T junctions in order to have a better understanding of this specific type of accident which regularly leads to the death or serious injury of motorcyclists. This paper focuses on ‘Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You’ accidents or SMIDSYs, which are also known in the literature as Right of Way Violations (ROWV) accidents

Dressed for visibility? (Discussion on

Do you dress for visibility in the UK? (Discussion on