Inattentional blindness is a normal psychological phenomenon that most people will experience multiple times in their lives.
However, when it happens to drivers, it suddenly turns into a major potential danger and an almost guaranteed source of car crashes. But how and why is this the case?
Defining inattentional blindness
The American Psychological Association takes a look at inattentional blindness. This natural phenomenon occurs as a way of ensuring that a person can focus with their full attention on a very important task, to the exclusion of any potential distractions they may otherwise end up dealing with.
This is useful in certain situations, such as dealing with the handling of a potentially dangerous situation. However, even outside of the car, it can potentially cause problems. For example, someone may hyper-focus to the point that they do not realize a fire has occurred on the other side of their workspace. It seems impossible, but this is the sort of exclusion inattentional blindness can cause.
Distraction from inattentional blindness
When driving, this proves a major problem in the form of distraction, which is one of the top causes of car crashes and one of the main causes of lethal accidents, as well. If a driver hyper-focuses on one thing, they could easily miss another. For example, a driver focusing on their speedometer might not see that the light ahead of them already turned red, resulting in them driving into an intersection as traffic comes through.
Unfortunately, there is no known way to put a pause on inattentional blindness. However, it is possible for drivers to come to recognize the signs so they can break themselves out of it.