Inattentional blindness is a unique psychological phenomenon that we all experience in our lives. When you focus on one thing, it can “blind” you to the other details in the surrounding area. This is normally a good thing, despite how it sounds.
But when it comes to driving, it can do more harm than good. Just what is this phenomenon and why is it such a negative issue for drivers?
Normal function of inattentional blindness
The American Psychological Association takes a look at inattentional blindness and its impact on drivers. Inattentional blindness as a psychological phenomenon is actually meant to be a helpful tool. In reality, you experience many lesser forms of it every day. Inattentional blindness kicks in when you are focusing on one specific thing to the point that you become “blind” to surrounding detail.
This normally helps your brain decide what is and is not important. Imagine if your brain treated every single thing you saw with equal weight. You would easily get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of detail you take in by the minute. Focusing on one thing and tuning out the rest is essentially an evolutionary trait.
Inattentional blindness and driving
Unfortunately, it does not reflect what drivers need. When you drive, you have to spread your attention as far as possible. You cannot just focus on one thing at a time, or you could easily miss potential dangers. This is what makes inattentional blindness such a risk for drivers.
It affects drivers of all ages and experience levels, too. The best thing you can do is understand the phenomenon itself. This will allow you to recognize signs of hyper-focus and spread your attention back out.