Inattention Blindness on the Rise

. Sunday, January 17


It can be Three Musketeers, slapstick funny, which is how it first came out last July when a girl stepped into an open manhole while texting on her cell phone. Now, the NY Times reports on statistical analyses that indicate increasingly severe injuries occurring while people walk and text or read or talk on the phone.

The question may be that we have become so accustomed to constant multitasking that electronic gadgets use provide that we are bored or feel unproductive when only doing one task like walking or driving a car.

It stands to reason that texting while walking would be risky, but researchers are finding that just talking on a cell phone greatly limits cognition and awareness of immediate surroundings and the primary task of walking or driving.

One study noted that it wasn’t just holding a conversation with another person since people walking in pairs were not impacted and remained fully aware of their surroundings. A cell phone conversation in contrast uses far more auditory and visual brain processes to the point where visual input isn’t registered at all.

Such intense preoccupation is called “inattention blindness.”

People under 30 are the most likely to walk into a telephone pole, trip over something or walk into the path of an oncoming car, but that’s not to say that those 41 to 60 don’t suffer the same fate. Concussions, broken fingers, sprained ankles, dizziness and embarrassment are on the rise.

Folks, be careful out there.


Anonymous said...

As a full time pedestraian I experience the opposite more often. people taking a turn with out checking the zebra crossing, people tunring the car while on the phone--I've had to dodge that more time than I can count.

Laura said...

People are addicted to their phones. They look pretty silly to me. I was working at an office where everyone went to the cafeteria for lunch and breaks. We all sat down at the same table. They all pulled out their cell phones. I started bringing my book to the table so I could read at lunch. My Mother told me that was something you never do, it is rude to ignore the others at the table that way. Ironic that people have no thought about being rude when it's a cell phone.