What Is Inattentive Blindness?

Every driver has a shared duty to all others on the roadway: the duty to pay attention. Keeping one’s eyes on the road is a crucial part of exercising a reasonable standard of care as a driver. Yet thousands of drivers ignore this duty and mistakenly believe they can do other things while driving. Sadly, this leads to serious car accidents and lost lives. In 2016, at least 3,450 people died in the U.S. because of distracted driving. Distracted driving can lead to accidents because of the phenomenon of inattentive blindness.

Defining Inattentive Blindness

Inattentive blindness is the phrase researchers use to describe the brain’s subconscious choice to filter out things it feels are unimportant in the moment. When the brain is experiencing too much sensory data, it can choose to filter out some information to better focus on something else. The brain may pick and choose what is relevant to the situation, and filter out the rest. Inattentive blindness can happen while someone is driving distracted – potentially causing a collision.

One study from Australian National University tested 56 adults on their ability to identify a dangerous driving situation. The results found that almost half (48%) of participants failed to see an unexpected object in a series of photos. These participants did not see vital information that made a driving situation unsafe. This study, among others like it, exhibits how a driver may not see obstacles or other people on the roadway prior to a collision.

What Causes Inattentive Blindness?

Many drivers make the mistake of thinking they are good multi-taskers. They may have gotten away with texting and driving once without getting into an accident, and afterwards believe they can always do the same. Yet certain visual, cognitive, and auditory distractions can interfere with the brain enough to cause inattentive blindness. Texting and driving is a prime example. If a driver chooses to read a text message while driving, the brain may choose to filter out other things – such as a red light or crossing pedestrians.

Distracted driving and inattentive blindness go hand in hand. It is impossible for the brain to focus 100% of its attention on two different things. Instead, the brain must divide its focus. If it finds something else more important than operating the vehicle at the moment, inattentive blindness may cause the driver not to see another vehicle or pedestrian. In turn, this could lead to serious car accidents, injuries, and deaths.

The Dangers of Inattentive Blindness While Driving

After many accidents, at-fault drivers say they looked but never saw the victims. This is especially common after motorcycle and bicycle accidents. Inattentive blindness could explain this situation. The driver’s eyes may have been on the road, but if his or her mind was elsewhere, inattentive blindness may filter out the existence of the other roadway user. Inattentive blindness can easily cause a driver to crash into a motorcycle, bicyclist, pedestrian, or other driver without noticing the individual was ever there.

Inattentive blindness contributes to the high number of distracted driving accidents each year. It is up to drivers to actively prevent this phenomenon by paying attention to the road. If a distracted driver caused your accident in Oregon, you may have grounds to file a claim. Oregon is a fault-based insurance state. You will bring your claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company in pursuit of damage recovery.

Proving driver distraction or inattentive blindness may take help from a team of investigators. Hiring a lawyer can help you prove your case and obtain compensation. A lawyer may be able to gather evidence such as photographs of food wrappers in the passenger seat of the car, or cellphone records that prove the other driver was on his or her phone at the time of the crash. Speak to an attorney after a car crash in Oregon for help with your claim.