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Old 17th April 2012, 10:54   #1
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Default Motion Induced Blindness

Very interesting article, posted on FB by BHPian Antz.bin (Anant Bhatia), I thought it is very useful and hence sharing on the forum.

Motion Induced Blindness

In a motor accident, wherein a speeding car hits a slower moving vehicle coming from the side, the speeding car drivers often swear that they just didn’t see the vehicle coming from the left or right.

Well, they aren’t lying. They really don’t see the vehicle coming from the side, in spite of broad daylight. This phenomenon on the car drivers’ part is known as “Motion Induced Blindness”. It is unbelievable but it is true, and it is definitely frightening. Armed forces pilots are taught about motion induced blindness during training, because it happens faster at high speeds; and to some extent it is applicable to car drivers also, especially the fast ones. So, if
you drive a car, please read this carefully.

Once airborne, pilots are taught to alternate their gaze between scanning the horizon and scanning their instrument panel, and never to fix their gaze for more than a couple of seconds on any single object. They are taught to continually keep their heads on a swivel and their eyes always moving. Because, if you fix your gaze on one object long enough while you yourself are in motion, your peripheral vision goes blind. That’s why it is called motion induced blindness. For fighter pilots, this is the only way to survive in air; not only during aerial combat, but from peacetime hazards like mid-air collisions as well.

Till about three decades ago, this “heads on swivel & eyes moving” technique was the only way to spot other aircraft in the skies around. Now-a-days they have on-board radars, but the old technique still
holds good.

Let me give you a small demonstration of motion induced blindness. This is the same demonstration that is used for trainee pilots in classrooms before they even go near an aircraft. Just click on the link below. You will see a revolving array of blue crosses on a black background. There is a flashing green dot in the centre and three fixed yellow dots around it. If you fix your gaze on the green dot for more than a few seconds, the yellow dots will disappear at random, either singly, or in pairs, or all three together. In reality, the yellow dots are always there. Just watch the yellow dots for some time to ensure that they don’t go anywhere!


(You can alter the background colour or the rpm of the array by clicking the appropriate buttons. Notes given by the author below the rotating array are educative.)

So, if you are driving at a high speed on a highway and if you fix your gaze on the road straight ahead, you will not see a car, a scooter, a buggy, a bicycle, a buffalo or even a human being approaching from the side. Now reverse the picture. If you are crossing a road on foot and you see a speeding car approaching. There’s a 90% chance that the driver isn’t seeing you, because his/her peripheral vision may be blind! And you may be in that blind zone!!

Last edited by GTO : 18th April 2012 at 21:46. Reason: Adding BHPian's handle
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Old 17th April 2012, 11:14   #2
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Great article. I really saw yellow dots disappear. Initially I thought yellow dots are programmed to disappear ocassionally. But not. They actually are there all the time. Its only when you concentrate on the centre green dot, they tend to disappear randomly.
I will now keep this thing in mind while driving. And I wish every driver gets to know this fact.
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Old 17th April 2012, 11:20   #3
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Thanks for sharing the scientific explanation of the same. I have been aware of this, thankfully, from the time, I started driving. The field of vision keeps narrowing down, as you move faster. What I did not know, was that there is indeed a technique to overcome this problem. Now, thanks for that.
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Old 17th April 2012, 11:44   #4
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Excellent informative writeup. Never knew such a thing existed, only felt it.

I have felt this myself, only at night, when driving between the white lane lines on the highway. After driving for few hours occasionally i get this sleepy hypnotic feeling wherein i do not see anything else except the two white lines on the road (this usually lasts few seconds). Now this is when i am perfectly awake (say night 2200 hrs).

The suggestion mentioned works spot on, you need to keep moving your eyes and not get fixated just on the road ahead, if i keep doing that i never get into this hypnotic state.
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Old 17th April 2012, 11:44   #5
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Originally Posted by throttleking View Post
Very interesting article, posted on FB by tbhpian Aditya Bhatia, I thought it is very useful and hence sharing on the forum.
Excellent find Sagar and thanks for sharing.

The commonly known terminology for this is Target Fixation which is one of the major causes for a crash. Not just while driving, but while riding too, one should be aware of objects in the peripheral vision. One must scan the peripheral vision or move the eyes constantly across the peripheral vision to keep track of any objects or obstacles that might appear in the path of the rider/driver.

Last edited by n_aditya : 17th April 2012 at 11:54.
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Old 17th April 2012, 12:13   #6
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Post deleted by the Team-BHP Support : Please do NOT post one-liners that add little or no informational value to the thread. We need your co-operation to maintain the overall quality of this forum.

Please read our rules before proceeding any further.

Last edited by GTO : 17th April 2012 at 14:14.
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Old 17th April 2012, 12:58   #7
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Thanks for sharing that was an excellent piece of information.

The phenomenon is common on straight highways where one tends to look straight without much eye movement. This article would surely help raise the awareness.

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Old 17th April 2012, 13:43   #8
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Thanks Sagar for putting this up here. I think I have seen it on FB too.

I had a small incident yesterday and now I am glad I know what I can attribute it to. A biker was approaching from the right side and I swear I didnt see him at all. What is weird is that the biker didnt notice; maybe he was engrossed in chatting with his pillion rider.

Nevertheless, I have also read elsewhere that for men the peripheral vision is worse than that for women. Apparently this is the reason that men get caught by their better halves looking at other women, whereas women almost never get caught!

So men should be more careful while driving and keep swiveling. Lesson learnt.
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Old 17th April 2012, 13:47   #9
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Thanks a lot for sharing this info. I have personally experienced this once while driving towards Nandi Hills at high speed. I completely missed an indica ahead of me entering my lane. It could have been fatal had it not been my wife screaming to turn left. It was a spooky experience and till date gives me shivers. Now I know why it happened.
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Old 17th April 2012, 14:16   #10
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

I have experienced this phenomenon first hand many years ago but I didn't know it was called Motion induced blindness. Thanks for putting this up. I have developed a practice of looking around through the driver side and passenger side window very often during long highway drives especially on 4-lane highways and the expressway. I was told (not sure about the authenticity) that staring at the lane markers also add to drowsiness on the highways especially during night driving. It helps to take your attention off them once in 5-10 minutes.
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Old 17th April 2012, 14:19   #11
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Man, that test was scary! I couldn't believe the yellow dots disappearing as they did. Luckily, I haven't faced the issue while driving. I can only guess / hope it's because I don't focus on a single object ahead. Don't fixate on one thing guys. There are too many nuts around us on Indian roads.

Thanks for creating this thread, and sharing the immensely valuable information with us. Am going to be sure to spread the word.
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Old 17th April 2012, 14:33   #12
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Thanks throttleking for this exceptional article. I just came to know this concept Motion Induced Blindness.

As suggested, I will blink my eyes always to refresh the objects. In this way, we can see those (yellow)blind spots as always
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Old 17th April 2012, 15:04   #13
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Informative article. Thanks for sharing.

Apart from driving where one can experience the blindness, even during day to day work we gaze at a particular object unknowingly and are caught unaware of someone walking past us. The best way to counteract the effect as said by many and the technique mentioned in the OP is to keep scanning the area of vision.

Last edited by ghodlur : 17th April 2012 at 15:26.
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Old 17th April 2012, 15:24   #14
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Very informative indeed. Thanks for sharing.

I remember being in a similar situation a few years back on the GT Road doing 80-100kmph. A biker entered my lane and had not the presence of mind of my wife, we would sure have been involved in a nasty collision. Now I know I wasn't sleeping on the wheel.
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Old 17th April 2012, 15:30   #15
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Default Re: Motion Induced Blindness

Very imformative. Thanks a lot for sharing. I was not even aware of Motion Induced Blindness. I just mailed this info to all my friends. This is very important information. People should be aware. Who knows? This information might actually end up saving lives.
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