“Are you blind?” is something many cyclists have shouted after a driver almost knocked them off their bicycle. It turns out the driver may well have been.
Many drivers fail to spot cyclists due to something called inattentional blindness. Here is how it works:
Everyone suffers from inattentional blindness
This is a term coined by psychologists rather than medical researchers and it does not refer to any kind of physical problem with the eye. Rather it’s to do with how we process what is around us.
Just because something is right in front of you, and you are looking straight at it, does not mean you will see it. Whenever your eyes are open, you focus your attention on something, but you can’t focus on everything. You can rapidly switch your attention between things so that it seems like you are seeing everything there is to see, but you’re still not noticing everything.
You also take shortcuts
Let’s say you share a house with just your spouse, no children. Every time your spouse steps into the room, you don’t notice everything about them little by little until you’ve deduced who it is. Your brain takes a shortcut, knowing that the only other person likely to step into the room is your spouse.
Many drivers do not expect to see anything other than four-wheeled vehicles when driving. Hence, that is what they see. Their brain does not perceive that a cyclist has entered the picture and thus the driver may run into the cyclist who was there all along.
This is only one of the reasons a driver that knocks you off your bicycle might not have seen you. Others can include being distracted or not looking before moving. Whatever the reason, if they’ve injured you, you’ll need to learn about your legal options.