How does inattentional blindness play into driving?

As a driver, you should prepare yourself for the emergence of multiple hurdles and dangers on the road. Some of them come from more expected places than others. Some could catch you off guard if you are not careful.

Inattentional blindness often falls into the latter category. But just how does this psychological phenomenon play into driver safety?

Normal functions of inattentional blindness

According to the American Psychological Association, inattentional blindness often impacts a person’s ability to drive. But first, what is inattentional blindness? This psychological phenomenon will kick in if you focus too intently on one specific thing. In doing so, you become “blind” to surrounding detail.

In daily life, this allows you to focus on the most pertinent information without getting overloaded by details in the area. It is a natural way to prioritize and make sense of situations you are in. Unfortunately, this is not the case for driving. When you drive, you want to spread your attention to as many things as possible. Focusing on only one thing at the expense of all else is a surefire way to get involved in a crash.

Who does it affect?

A common misconception is that this issue affects young or new drivers only. But this is not the case. Inattentional blindness can affect any driver of any age or experience. Older drivers have an easier time determining when they have slipped into a state of hyper-focus, though. By becoming aware of it, you may find it easier to break out of it.

In the meantime, this phenomenon causes an unfortunate amount of crashes. Until awareness rises, it will continue to do so.