Inattentional blindness and its role in motorcycle accidents

Did you suffer injuries or lose a loved one in a motorcycle accident? If so, you are not alone. Collisions involving motorcycles are fairly common in the state of South Carolina. According to researchers, something called inattentional blindness contributes to many of them every year.

What exactly is inattentional blindness? How common is it? Is it an excuse to get responsible parties off the hook for their actions?

Inattentional blindness in a nutshell

Every day, in every situation, the brain is taking in information about what is going on in one's environment. When so much data is being received, the brain will filter out any information it deems unimportant for the time being. This can allow you to focus and be more productive in certain aspects of your life.

When driving, there is so much sensory information that the brain has to process, that it often becomes overloaded and will filter out information it probably shouldn't. This will cause a person to miss something that is clearly in his or her field of view. This inability to see something in plain sight is the result of inattentional blindness. For whatever reason, the brain decided that information was not relevant to one's situation.

Researchers at the Australian National University conducted a study regarding inattentional blindness and its effect on driver decisions. Study participants looked through a series of photos and had to identify whether each picture depicted a safe driving environment or an unsafe driving environment from a driver's perspective. In the final photo, a motorcycle or other object was in plain view, and nearly half of all study participants missed it. More people missed the motorcycle than any other object introduced.

While this study group is small, the results speak volumes. It shows that inattentional blindness is a significant problem when people are behind the wheel. It also shows that, when it comes to the brain's priority list, motorcycles do not rank very high.

Does claiming inattentional blindness excuse a driver's actions?

No, inattentional blindness is not an excuse that would limit one's liability. Numerous drivers may claim that they looked but failed to see motorcyclists. At the end of the day, they may still be accountable for any losses suffered by the victims or their surviving family members. To seek relief, it is necessary to file the proper claims in civil court and then negotiate settlement terms or pursue litigation.

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