New Jersey drivers know many sources of distraction. Your handheld devices can distract you. Passengers often act as distractions. Even the act of changing your temperature or music is a distraction.

But what about inattentional blindness? What sort of distraction can this phenomenon create? Are you immune to it? Is there any way to prevent it from happening?

How inattentional blindness works

First of all, the American Psychological Association describes what inattentional blindness is. This is a natural phenomenon in which your mind tries to narrow down what to focus on. Think about the details you take in on a daily basis. If you remembered or focused on every one, you would end up overwhelmed in seconds. Inattentional blindness lets you tune out the details that are not important. Your brain automatically prioritizes what is most relevant to you in any moment. That is what you focus on. The rest falls by the wayside.

Why this is bad for drivers

Unfortunately, drivers must have a strong proficiency in multitasking. You cannot “tune out” your surroundings when you are behind the wheel. But you cannot tell your brain that, either. Inattentional blindness is a phenomenon you have no control over. Thus, you cannot stop it from happening. The best thing is to have awareness of it. That way, you can snap yourself out of it if you notice your focus narrowing in on one thing.

A common example is when new drivers focus on their speed and forget to look for stop signs. But this can happen to any driver of any age. Keep that in mind the next time you hit the road.