What Is Inattentional Blindness?

As a driver, you need to have full awareness of as many roadway dangers as possible. This awareness can help you adjust your own driving behaviors so you can stay safe and avoid the possibility of crashes.

One such issue that does not get as much attention is inattentional blindness. But just what is it? How does it impact drivers?

Defining inattentional blindness

As the American Psychological Association studies, inattentional blindness can have a big impact on driver safety. First, what is inattentional blindness? It is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when you are focusing intently on one thing in particular. In the process of directing all your focus to that one thing, you end up “blinding” yourself to anything else that may happen in the surrounding area.

For example, say you are concentrating on not running a red light. All of your focus ends up anchored on the light ahead. Because of that, you do not see a deer dart out from the bushes beside the road, getting ready to dart into it. This results in you hitting the deer before you get anywhere near the light.

As a crash contributor

Inattentional blindness is a big contributing cause of crashes, though it usually involves focusing on things like your speed. Unfortunately, driving requires you to have the ability to spread your attention and concentration across a wide array of things that all occur at the same time.

Still, having awareness of inattentional blindness can help. If you notice yourself start to hyper-focus on one thing, you can try to bring yourself back out of it and spread out your focus. Thus, you can potentially avoid crashes.