Inattentional Blindness: What it is and how it impacts you

May 18, 2020 Casey Nighbor

Inattentional blindness or perceptual blindness is as a psychological lack of attention that is not associated with any defects or deficits. In simple terms, its an event where someone fails to see an unexpected stimulus in plain sight.

It is becoming more and more common while driving due to modern advancements pulling our attention away from the road. As a truck driver, it can happen when you have been driving for long periods of time, lose focus by thinking of other things while driving and or are distracted by something such as your radio.  

Distracted driving vs. inattentional blindness

Distracted driving means that a driver is not paying full attention to the single task of driving. This can mean that you are texting, eating or talking on the phone, etc.

Inattentional blindness means that a person is missing critical information even when their eyes are focused on the road ahead. It can happen when you are very focused on only one thing while driving. For example, if you become hyperfocused on reaching a destination or exit, you can miss other things happening around you on the road.

Watch this video for an example of how inatttentional blindness works.

What can you do to prevent inattentional blindness?

Inattentional blindness can never fully be avoided because our brains are wired to not absorb every single stimulus presented to us. If they were, our brains would be bombarded with information and we would never know what is critical information. However while driving, there are steps you can take to decrease your chances of missing important cues due to inattentional blindness.

3 steps to take to decrease risk of inattentional blindness: 

1. Minimize distractions and maximize your attention: Put your cellphone away. Even if you aren't directly texting someone back or browsing the internet while driving, your attention could easily wander if your screen lights up, causing you to miss things while on the road. Also, understand that safety technology in your truck is there to supplement and not replace safe driving. You still have to pay attention in order to remain safe.

2. Look for cues: Road signs often warn of potential hazards but so do your surroundings. Farmland means tractors or animals, forests can mean deer, mountains can mean falling rock and cities can mean more distracted pedestrians. Stay alert and refocus when your surroundings change.

3. Be the professional: As a truck driver, you are the professional on the road. Watch for distracted drivers, pay attention to signals and leave room for those who are not paying as close attention

These tips can help you reduce the changes of looking without seeing.

In the event that you do get into an accident while driving on the job, here are 3 tips to handling accidents at any size.

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