When driving, it is of utmost importance to divide one’s attention evenly across all potential dangers of the road. Unfortunately, there is one natural phenomenon that might keep this from happening.

It is called inattentional blindness, and while it offers important support in daily life, it can pose a major danger to any motorist. But why is this the case?

Defining Inattentional Blindness

The American Psychological Association takes a look at inattentional blindness as a psychological phenomenon. Inattentional blindness is a mental mechanic that allows people to selectively focus with a great level of intensity on one specific thing, to the exclusion of anything that is not this object of focus.

Normally, this can offer major benefits, as it allows workers to focus on a task without any outside distraction. However, it can pose a major problem because it literally blinds a person to anything happening outside of their scope of focus.

The Dangers of Distraction

In life outside of driving, this can result in seemingly impossible but true scenarios, such as people not noticing that they are next to a dangerous fight or a fire that recently started. In driving, it can end in a crash.

The most common example comes in the form of focusing on one specific part of the car or the road to the exclusion of the rest. For example, a driver hyper-focusing on the speedometer may miss the fact that they are speeding toward a red light. Someone focusing on a car up ahead might miss an animal about to dodge into the road in front of them.

Crashes almost always happen due to distraction, which is what makes this such a major problem, and something all drivers should have an awareness of.