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What is inattentional blindness?

When driving, it is important to multitask. Your focus should extend across many different points of interest at the same time, as this helps you predict potential dangers you may face.

But there is a natural phenomenon that might just get in your way. It is called inattentional blindness, and the impact it has on you may end up costing you dearly.

Inattentional blindness as a phenomenon

The American Psychological Association discusses inattentional blindness. This natural phenomenon actually helps you in your daily life. It kicks in when you focus with great intensity on one specific topic or matter. It narrows your attention down to that thing, blocking out any outside interfering information.

This lets you collect a lot of data on your topic of interest, at the cost of being able to absorb periphery data at the same time. In short bursts and controlled situations, this is a useful way of keeping yourself from getting distracted by unnecessary information.

Who does it affect?

But behind the wheel, it does more harm than good. As mentioned, multitasking is crucial for drivers. You must spot dangers as they appear and react to them quickly enough to avoid crashes. This is already difficult enough even under normal circumstances, but it is even harder if you suffer from a “blindness” of your surroundings.

This affects all drivers, not just the new and young among you. That is a common misconception that actually creates more danger because it leaves older drivers feeling more secure than they should. This false sense of security can easily lead to even more crashes, thus perpetuating a dangerous cycle.

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