How does inattentional blindness impact driver safety?

On Behalf of | Jul 23, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Pennsylvania drivers face a myriad of distractions every day. These distractions come in many forms. This includes things people believe to be innocuous, like chatting with passengers. But did you know that focusing too much is a distraction, too?

Today we will take a look at inattentional blindness. What is it? How does it affect driver safety? We will answer these questions and more.

What is the use of inattentional blindness?

American Psychological Association discusses the psychological phenomenon of inattentional blindness. This happens when you focus on one thing with great intensity. In doing so, you “blind” yourself to everything but your focus. In daily life, this is useful. The human mind cannot catalog and keep track of every detail it comes across in a day. Being able to blind yourself to unnecessary detail is integral to your functionality.

How does this translate to a distraction?

But what about when you drive? Here, inattentional blindness creates dangers for you and other drivers. A common example focuses on a new driver. They are not used to dividing their attention between many things while driving. They may focus on their speedometer. They may focus on oncoming traffic. In this intense focus, they forget to watch for street signs and do not stop for stop signs. This results in a crash at a four-way stop.

This is not only a problem for new drivers, though. Inattentional blindness can strike anyone. Even seasoned drivers face these distractions. It happens subconsciously. But bringing the phenomenon to light can help keep people aware. This awareness allows you to counteract inattentional blindness when you notice it. In turn, this makes driving safer for everyone.