Drivers have to deal with so many distractions on the road that any additional hurdles are bound to create dangerous situations.
This is the case with change blindness, which can and does affect drivers and may even result in crashes.
How the brain processes the world
Frontiers discuss change blindness in daily life. Change blindness is a natural phenomenon related to the brain’s ability to take in and store information.
In one second, the brain perceives over 2,000 separate pieces of information. In that same time, it sends about 20 pieces of information to the conscious mind. It decides what information to keep based on predictive models which are based on previous experiences.
In terms of driving, the brain will build predictive models based on a typical journey from one place to another. This is why many people will space out on drives they have a lot of familiarity with.
The issue with driving and change blindness
However, if something changes from the usual pattern, the brain may actually turn a blind eye to it – hence the term change blindness. Unfortunately, this is potentially a huge issue when it comes to driver safety, as things the brain may ignore can include issues like animals wandering on the road or construction.
Because people tend to ignore new additions to familiar situations unless it poses an immediate threat, it is possible for crashes to occur because someone simply does not notice a potential danger in time to react. For this reason, more drivers should understand the phenomenon of change blindness and how it can impact driving.