Modern day driving often involves multi-tasking: drinking a frappuccino while sending a text message, skipping songs on your iPod, steering the car with your knees, and changing lanes. Distractions abound, both within the car and out on the streets. Do you have what it takes to maintain adequate focus? Transport for London (TFL) has put together a really cool video to illustrate the point, embedded below the fold.
As car manufacturers increasingly strive to keep people entertained during the often tedious task of driving, the end result is often distraction. The aim of this latest campaign by TFL is to alert drivers to the possibility of something unexpected happening, and to "reduce the number of cyclists that are hurt on London’s roads."
A passer-by asks you for directions. As you talk to him, two workmen walk between you carrying a door. In a flash the passer-by switches places with one of the workmen, and you are left giving directions to a different person. Do you think you would notice?
Researchers at Harvard University played this trick on some unsuspecting people and over 50 per cent failed to spot the change.
This phenomenon is known as "change blindness" - only a tiny fraction of all the information going into your brain enters your consciousness. People often fail to see a change in their surroundings because their attention is elsewhere.
Even stranger, if you are concentrating on something, you can become blind to other events that you would normally notice. This "inattention blindness" is possibly the reason why motorists collide with cyclists.
Just as it is important for road users to keep an eye out for cyclists, cyclists must also take steps to ensure they are seen by motorists.
Thanks to Damian Calvert for the heads-up.
Photo via flickr by grazie, davvero.
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