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  • Writer's pictureJane Wheeler

Target Fixation


I saw the gravel, I knew about gravel and motorbikes and then I proceeded to drive straight into the gravel and I ended up on the other side of the ditch off of my motorcycle laying on the grass, flat on my back staring up at the sky. Not really sure how I got there but I remember hitting my head on the road with my helmet but not much else. My motorcycle was over on the grass as well now and it was still running and revving out beside me. I was able to lean over and shut it off.


Experienced motorcyclists will tell you that one of the most common reasons motorcycles crash is due to a phenomenon called “target fixation.”


Target Fixation defined by idrivesafely.com: “ … is a behavior in which a person becomes so focused on a singular object that they tend to ride (or drive) straight into it. This occurs more commonly in motorcyclists because the steering on a motorcycle is much more attuned to the miniscule, sometimes subconscious, movements of the rider. In other words, it’s easier for a motorcyclist to steer their vehicles toward an object than it is to do so while driving a car.”


I had taken motorcyclist training and they warned us and taught us about target fixation especially on a corner. They said the way to avoid it is to keep your eyes moving, when approaching a turn, look past the turn and not right at the curve, looking the way you wish to go.


Idrivesafely.com states: “When you are sharing the road with a vehicle, do not look at the vehicle – look past the vehicle, almost as if you are looking through it.”


I had not followed this advice; I had stared at the gravel and had crashed my bike by doing so. The resulting damage was whiplash, a head bump, road rash up my arms as I must have slid along the road, and it pushed up the sleeves of my riding jacket. The worst thing was the handlebars must have hit my thigh as I flew off the bike and I had a deep and hefty, like really hefty, indent in my thigh where the handlebar pushed into my leg. The resulting bruise that followed was the size of my whole thigh, it took forever to heal.


My bike was not totaled but definitely was not rideable until some work could be done on it.


As I lay there on the grass, trying to focus, I heard a vehicle approach and stop. It was a neighbor of the area; she had heard the crash (of which I have no recollection of any noise) and she came out immediately to investigate. God bless her that she did. She picked me up and took me over to a friends where they were able to look after me and went for the bike to retrieve it.


What are you supposed to do after a crash? After a horse incident, where you fall off the horse, you have to get back in the saddle and ride again. After a bike accident you have to get back on and ride again or in both of these cases, your fear will swallow you up and you will never ride again.


After my bike was repaired, I did get back on the bike. I was now nervous when I went out, especially when I saw gravel on the road and in the north, if you know anything about our roads, gravel is so plentiful for our long icy winter and spring roads. We could get snow in any month of the year some years. After a couple months, when I noticed that now more than ever, I still stared and watched for gravel, I decided that I would make a better passenger than a driver. I sold the bike and I am totally okay with that.


This whole phrase “Target Fixation” sounds so much like our whole generation of cell phone users. Everywhere you go, people are staring at the little screen of their phone, punching the screen with their finger, scrolling up with their hands. We seem to have lost our ability to look up and notice that life is moving along all around us. We have become fixated on our phones and this means me as well as everyone else.


The first week of 2024 and if we look around us or at some problem in our world personally or in the world generally – we might be suffering from Target Fixation. That is, our attention, our focus and brain power are fixated on a certain point, problem or person and we, instead of missing the problem, actually head straight into the middle of it. The result is an impending crash.


The advice of the motorcycle course - look in the direction of where you want to go. Look past the problem and into the future, peer around the problem as if it is not there. You will find that your body, your mind and emotions will be as if the problem is not there at all as you aim in the direction that you actually want to go.


The Bible has some advice about where our focus should be in life:

“Let all the world look to Me for salvation! For I Am God; there is no other.

I have sworn by myself, and I will never go back on My word, for it is true –

That every knee in all the world shall bow to Me and

Every tongue shall swear allegiance to My name.”  Isaiah 45:22-25 The Living Bible

 

It would seem that God knows our eyes get distracted, fixed on somewhere else, and we often leave the good “path” heading for a collision course with something that is probably not so great. God has given us a remedy for that – “Look to Me (God).”


God says, fix your eyes on Him, if we can fix our eyes for hours on our phones, why is it so hard to fix them on God, the one who can actually help us? Remember what He has done in the past and concentrate on His Word and His Promises that He has given us. What happens when we focus on a spot or a thing? Remember in the definition of “target fixation,” our bodies and minds are swayed by our eyes and we run straight into what we are looking at.


What a wonderful way to start 2024, with our eyes fixed on God, so that our bodies, mind and spirit will run straight into the waiting arms of God, our Heavenly Father. The safest place to be.

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