Find us Online July 2013 - Issue #29  
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The Primary Attribution Error

“That guy is just a jerk/idiot…
I just made an honest mistake”

The Primary Attribution Error means simply this:

When someone else does something ‘wrong:’
  • We tend to attribute that wrong action to a character flaw. They’re a jerk; they don’t care; they are out to cause trouble; they are trying to piss me off; etc.
  • Specifically in traffic – They are out to get motorcycle riders; they are a terrible driver; they are a menace; etc.
When WE do something ‘wrong:’
  • We tend to attribute that wrong action to simply making an error. I’m a good person, I just had a lapse in judgment; I really do care about people and I didn’t mean to be difficult; etc.
  • Specifically in traffic – I always leave a good following distance, I just lost focus there for a minute; I always look twice, I just forgot that one time; etc.

This tendency has been extensively studied by academic types and is very common, so don’t feel bad if you do it (and if you are human…you do). Just be aware that it can lead us to unintentionally overlook our own shortcomings and to be very critical of others. When driving or riding in traffic, this can also lead us to focus more on the driving habits of others and less on what we are doing.


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Tar Snakes - Be Prepared

Cracks in highway road surfaces are usually sealed with a black, tar-like substance. Tar snakes, or crack sealant, can compromise a motorcycle's traction. In warm weather, this material becomes gummy and slick, causing motorcycles to slip and wiggle when leaning. Recognize this change in pavement color and avoid it if possible. If you can't avoid it, reduce speed and minimize lean.