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Do drivers experience change blindness?

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2022 | Car Accidents

Drivers already experience a number of potentially dangerous distractions while on the road. Unfortunately, their own brain may work against them at some point, too.

This is the case with change blindness, which can easily impact a driver of any age or experience with little to no warning at all.

How the brain processes information

Frontiers discusses change blindness in daily life. Normally, this is a helpful tool and critical for the way the brain processes the world. Change blindness is a result of how the brain takes in and sends information.

Every second, the brain takes in around 2,000 pieces of information and process about 20 pieces. People simply could not function if they consciously took in all 2,000 pieces per second. The brain decides what pieces to use based on predictive models made through past experiences.

This is why drivers often zone out when driving along routes they take frequently. Their brains build a predictive model as to what will happen along the route, so the driver does not have to think much about it.

Change blindness and its risks

However, the brain will also typically blind itself to any changes in these predictive models. For example, if there is construction or an animal in the road, the brain might actually not notice it immediately. Unfortunately, this small delay can lead to a potential crash because every second is important on the road.

Thus, change blindness can and does lead to increased risk on the road. It is something drivers should understand because it affects everyone equally as a natural phenomenon of the brain.


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