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How does inattentional blindness lead to driver distraction?

Texas drivers understand the dangers of distracted driving. Many of these forms of distraction are heavily criticized in media. This includes texting while driving. Drowsy driving has also come into the spotlight recently. 

But what about other, lesser known forms of distraction? Inattentional blindness is a natural phenomenon. But because it is not what drivers need when behind the wheel, it acts as a danger to you. 

Inattentional blindness outside of the car 

The American Psychological Association talks about the function of inattentional blindness. Think of all the details you take in on a daily basis. Imagine having to remember every single one. You would end up overwhelmed in minutes. Inattentional blindness is a natural function of your brain. It is your brain deciding what is worth focusing on by using context clues in a situation. Your brain zeroes in on the important things and “blinds” you to the information you do not need. 

Unfortunately, this has devastating consequences on the road. Every bit of information is necessary when you drive. There is no “unimportant” piece of information. Your brain does not realize this, though. Inattentional blindness is a subconscious process. 

How new drivers experience inattentional blindness 

A common example involves new drivers. They focus on their speedometer or on the oncoming traffic they face. Their brain sorts through important pieces of information. It decides what is relevant in their current situation. Because of that, they are “blinded” to things like stop signs or animals crossing the road. But unintentional blindness can impact drivers of all ages and experience levels. The best way to combat it is to have awareness of its existence.