Target fixation is one of the main causes of single vehicle motorcycle crashes and fatalities among new riders. In this video, we’ll look at three examples of target fixation and then provide suggestions on how to avoid it.
So how can you overcome it? Like almost everything, practice will greatly reduce and hopefully even eliminate the risk of target fixation. Here are some practical ways to overcome it:
1. Look with your head, not just your eyes
If you merely looking with your eyes and not moving your head, it’s possible you’re just going with the flow and not actively thinking about riding. By keeping your eyes as forward as possible and moving your head in the direction you want to look, you’re concentrating more and are therefore more actively engaged in your ride.
2. Actively scan
By actively scanning with your eyes, you minimise the amount of time you look at one particular object. Keep your eyes dancing around, so to speak. Never let your eyes lock on something for too long – that helps prevent you from focussing on an object in an emergency. Another way to put it is to look in the general direction of where you’re travelling, not a specific point.
3. Talk to yourself.
Doing this might make you look crazy, but it’s actually a fantastic way to not only preventing target fixation but breaking out of it should actually happen. By talking to yourself, you’re actively reminding yourself what you should be doing.
Begin by saying something like “Look” as in look where you want to go when you’re in a corner, or “Push” as in push the bars of the bike. Eventually, you won’t need to do this but you’ll have it in your mind so that if you do find yourself target fixating on something, use that key word – shout it to yourself and you’ll hopefully break the spell your mind has on you.
4. Look through the corner
This relates to 1 and 2, but is more broad and is a skill that you should use for riding anyway – not just to avoid target fixation. So often, we look just in front of our bikes. You’ll see hazards doing this but it’s generally too late to do anything about it.
By looking ahead and through corners (and straights for that matter), you give yourself plenty of time to not only avoid hazards, but set up correct riding lines too. Look where you want to go, not at what you want to avoid.
When you tense up, you tend to make errors. Your body clamps up both physically and mentally and you greatly increase the chances of doing the wrong thing. Of course, learning to relax isn’t always easy. Breathing exercises help and again, talking to yourself. Telling yourself to “Relax” can actually work – it reminds you that your bike is far more capable than you give it credit for and it will make the turn if you ask it to.