When hitting the road, the amount of information a driver takes in every second is astounding. This is why multitasking is such an important skill for drivers who need to pay attention to so many things at once.
Unfortunately, change blindness is a phenomenon that affects every driver. Anyone can fall victim to it, and it can actually cause a crash.
How the brain perceives surroundings
Frontiers discuss the phenomenon of change blindness. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs as the brain decides what information to process from the numerous pieces it takes in every second.
In daily life, this is useful as it keeps a person from feeling overwhelmed or overloaded with unnecessary information. The brain also creates predictive models based on past experiences, and this helps further streamline the process of what information to take in.
Predictive models and crashes
However, the brain also tends to ignore things that do not fit into these predictive models. This is where change blindness comes in. When something unexpected appears in an otherwise routine situation, the brain may actually ignore it.
This is how some people get into crashes or other situations where they could have spotted the danger in advance. Simply because they did not anticipate seeing the danger, their brain wrote it out of existence and they could not react to it until it became a direct threat.
This often applies to animals darting into the road and other sudden occurrences, and can apply to the actions of other drivers as well. In general, it shows that change blindness can and sometimes does cause crashes.