Missouri drivers like you understand that distractions prove deadly on the road. But no one can identify every possible distraction. You may not even be aware that some of these distractions exist.

Today, we will look at a distraction that is mental rather than physical or visual. This distraction is inattentional blindness. Most people do not even know about the risk it poses.

What is inattentional blindness?

The American Psychological Association defines inattentional blindness as a mental phenomenon. In this phenomenon, you focus with great intensity on one specific thing. In concentrating so hard, you do not notice obvious issues with the rest of your environment. This happens because the human brain functions without details. It works by identifying things in a general way. If it did not do that, you would have too much information to sort through.

How does inattentional blindness affect drivers?

When driving, this can translate to missing “obvious” things. For example, you may focus on your speedometer so you do not get caught speeding. Because your attention is there, you do not notice the red light you run. Another example involves paying too much attention to oncoming traffic. In doing so, you do not spot the deer wandering into your lane in time to stop.

New drivers are at greater risk for inattentional blindness. But this does not mean more experienced drivers never fall victim to it. Inattentional blindness can strike anyone at any time. The resulting dangers that come from it can end in crashes. As long as drivers are aware of this phenomenon, it is a step in the right direction.