For drivers, distractions on the road pose one of the biggest potential risks. Just one second of distraction could mean the difference between avoiding a potential danger and getting into a crash.
Though many distractions have a well-earned reputation for their danger, such as texting or drinking while driving, other distractions do not have as much attention. Inattentional blindness serves as one of them.
Defining inattentional blindness
The American Psychological Association discusses the phenomenon of inattentional blindness. In essence, this is a natural phenomenon that occurs when a person’s brain wants to focus on one important thing at a time. It essentially turns off the ability to multitask or pick up on additional sources of information happening at the same time.
This held importance in earlier days, such as when hunters needed to focus solely on catching prey or when earlier peoples needed to get away from threats. These days, however, it causes more harm than good.
Why does it interact poorly with driving?
This is especially true when it comes to driving, where the ability to multitask serves as a crucial component of safety. In order to notice all dangers and react to them appropriately, a driver needs to focus on many different things at once. This includes their speed, the conditions of the road, the movements of other cars, the weather and more.
When a driver hyper-focused on one specific thing, such as the speedometer or an upcoming red light, the driver then loses the ability to react to any additional dangers like a raccoon crossing the road suddenly. This is what makes inattentional blindness such a dangerous thing.