Inattentive Blindness: Looked But Failed To See

Drivers are inattentive at least half of the time when turning right, and 65% of the time they don’t register a person on a bike or motorcycle  (or people walking). “This phenomenon—a person’s failure to notice an unexpected object in plain sight—is known as “inattentional blindness.” It’s the reason why a driver might look right at you, but cut you off anyway. ”  The old “I didn’t see him”, or “she came out of nowhere” excuse is actually the truth. The driver really didn’t see the woman walking into the intersection because he didn’t take the time to look slowly and carefully from side to side to bring the person into the center of vision.

Taking a deeper dive, here’s the science, in an article by an RAF pilot explaining that our eyes were not designed to see detail from the periphery. So unless a driver is looking intentionally, and directly at a person walking or riding a bike, “visual acuity is about 1/10th of what it is at the centre.”

Now that we know that drivers don’t see people outside of the vehicle, let’s add driver entitlement, and the embedded belief that roads were designed for cars, and we realize the very real danger to people walking and riding bikes.

It’s wishful thinking that drivers will change habits, so we need to redesign roads so that drivers have to slow down, install better and safer infrastructure for people walking and biking, and redesign our cities for less car dependency;  cities are for people, not for cars.

The Surprising Reason Why Drivers Don’t ‘See’ Cyclists


“Looked-but-failed-to-see (LBFTS) crashes”:
“When we are driving, there is a huge amount of sensory information that our brain must deal with. We can’t attend to everything, because this would consume enormous cognitive resources and take too much time,” study author Kristen Pammer, a professor of psychology and the associate dean of science at Australian National University, said in a press release. “So our brain has to decide what information is most important. The frequency of LBFTS crashes suggests to us a connection with how the brain filters out information.”



The Auto Industry Has Co-Opted Our Language

The automotive industry has co-opted our language and we’re just becoming aware of the calculated plan. We’re people driving vehicles, and we’re also people riding bikes, and walking – and yes, riding scooters too. But guess who gets the benefit of language that absolves them of responsibility in injuries and fatalities? It’s NOT an accident.

We don’t say “plane accident.” We shouldn’t say “car accident” either.

In response to the emerging public backlash against cars (which were, at the time, largely owned and driven by the wealthy), automakers and other industry groups pushed for a new set of laws that kept pedestrians off the streets, except at crosswalks.

To get people to follow these laws, they tried to shape news coverage of crashes. The National Automobile Chamber of Commerce, an industry group, established a free wire service for newspapers: Reporters could send in the basic details of a traffic collision, and would get in return a complete article to print the next day. These articles, printed widely, shifted the blame for crashes to pedestrians — and almost always used the word “accident.”

Read how we’ve been brainwashed: