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New York fatal accident: The role of inattentional blindness

Losing in a loved one in an auto accident is difficult for anyone to deal with. There is a need for answers and a need for justice, but sometimes both can take time to obtain. When a fatal accident occurs, it is normal to want to believe that the driver responsible was some sort of maniac, not following the rules of the road or someone who simply was not paying attention. The truth is, quite a few collisions that occur in New York and elsewhere are the result of inattentional blindness — particularly motorcycle or pedestrian accidents.

It is possible to be focusing on the road and not see certain things. Researchers call this inattentional blindness. This is where the brain chooses to filter out information that it feels is unimportant in any given moment. One would think that seeing vehicles or pedestrians while driving would be important information that one should remember, but the truth is, when driving, there is so much sensory data being taken in by the brain that sometimes things that are relevant to one’s situation are filtered out anyway.

A study out of Australian National University, in which 56 adults were asked to identify dangerous driving situations by looking at a series of pictures, has some pretty interesting data on this subject. The series of pictures that each subject was asked to review ended with an image that included an unexpected object — such as a motorcycle or taxi. According to the study, 48 percent of participants failed to see that unexpected object even though it was in plain sight. Nearly half of the participants missed vital information that turned a safe driving situation into an unsafe one.

Following a fatal accident, the responsible party may claim that he or she looked but failed to see the victim. Inattentional blindness would explain this claim, but it does not mean that he or she will not be held accountable for the victim’s death. Surviving family members of the victim may be entitled to pursue compensation for their losses by filing legal actions against the responsible party in a New York civil court. Anyone who thinks they have a wrongful death case can turn to legal counsel for guidance and assistance seeking relief.

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