Biomotion is the science of how the human body moves, an “organism in motion”
In order for moving human bodies to be as safe as possible at night, we need to apply reflective material strategically. It’s all about location. Biomotion is literally ‘motion from a living organism’. It’s important to you because the sooner you appear to an oncoming driver as a person and not a shadow, sign or deer, the quicker the driver’s brain engages and responds accordingly. The human mind searches for cues to help in perceiving the difference between static obstacles and human beings on the move. The amount and positioning of reflective material on the body is absolutely critical to visibility.
Pareidolia: noun; (per-ˌī-ˈdōl-yə) the process of your brain struggling to make sense of input that isn’t clear.
Here’s a granite rock formation in Freetown, MA. From this angle, to almost anyone, this jumble of rock conveys a majestic presence overlooking the valley below. Eye, nose, lips and chin are unmistakable. How easily we recognize a profile is equal to how difficult to un-see it afterwards. The brain seeks out and appreciates patterns. Look at it, then look away and look at it again. It’s impossible not to see the profile, once the brain identifies it as such. Evolution has super tuned our brains to recognize faces and shapes whenever possible, but when we’re faced with vague images, our brains are challenged to search for anything familiar to label, sort and deal with it. Inkblot tests are a great example. We rarely enjoy looking at these messes of ink and paint sprawled on paper; we want so badly to “get it”. Most often, there’s nothing to be ”gotten”, but knowing that doesn’t allow the brain to relax and just see a pretty, symmetrical mess. Itsearches for an animal face, a vase of flowers or a sexy pterodactyl, maybe.
Regarding accident avoidance when you’re outdoors at dusk, dawn or in the dark, pareidolia plays a major and surprising role. Research shows that the most effective use of reflective material is when it is affixed to points on the body that – when seen by oncoming drivers –will help to communicate immediately that you are a Person. A Human, Moving Person. Think about a crazy, dancing skeleton from a cartoon. What joints move to tell you it’s34‘alive’? The pattern of its head, shoulders, hips, wrists, knees and toes as it moves. Seeing this pattern immediately circumvents the drivers’ brain starts to do in order to identify what you are. The driver recognizes right away that you’re:
3. To be avoided at all costs
So next time you or your kids are outside in low light conditions, don’t make oncoming drivers’ brains work too hard to see you’re a person.