Motorcyclists are well-aware of the term “target fixation.” That’s a mental process in which the brain focuses too intently on a single object. In motorcycling, target fixation can cause a rider to focus so hard on a dangerous object (like a pole, tree, or piece of road debris) that he or she ends up failing to avoid it and colliding with it. But there are other instances where target fixation can be hazardous to motorcycles – although the motorcyclists may not be at fault.
One such motorcycle accident occurred this week in Libertyville in central Lake County. On Wednesday night just after 11:45pm, an 18-year old man from Mundelein was driving a Volkswagen car north on Route 45 when he stopped at Winchester Road to turn left. According to police, he was forced to wait because a train was traveling on the railroad tracks that parallel Route 45 and cross Winchester Road. When the train passed by, the man began his left turn, but struck a man riding a Harley Davidson that was traveling south on Route 45. The 79-year old motorcyclist from Mount Prospect died at a Libertyville hospital less than four hours later.
This is a prime example of target fixation, because the teen was so focused on the train that he did not see the oncoming motorcycle until it was too late. As a result, the Mundelein man will probably be held responsible for the motorcycle accident and the death of its elderly rider.
The surviving family members of the victim may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver of the Volkswagen. This suit could allow the grieving family to get reimbursed for burial expenses and hospitalization costs. A jury may also order the teen to pay damages to the plaintiffs for loss of care and mental anguish.