So, here you are. Steadily driving your way home along a motorway, mile after mile and junction after junction, perhaps in kind of semi aware state casually glancing at the sat nav, speedo or rear view mirror. Every now and then you find yourself simply gazing at the view ahead and seconds turn into minutes and then half an hour passes without you realising it.
It should do because almost everyone that I’ve spoken to has experienced it, particularly on long and familiar journeys with a steady pace and light traffic, the M5 heading past Bristol and into the Southwest is a good example on a weekday afternoon, clear of bank holiday traffic.
The truth is this drifting state is dangerous and its not just when you’re on a motorway.
Blindness in the workplace
We often wonder when we come to look at an accident just how it happened. We are given the gift of 20/20 hindsight of course and its always hard to put yourself in that persons position to the extent that you can truly appreciate the thought processes they went through. You are there to try and identify the root causes – that’s why its worth knowing about motion induced blindness as a principle and also raising it with your staff as an issue before these accidents have a chance to occur.
Visual and optical phenomena
So, how do we get this message out there to vehicle fleet drivers, fork lift truck operators, motorcyclists and a whole other raft of people who might benefit? As usual, by training and education – and a very neat graphic courtesy of the internet.
Stare at the central yellow dot and keep looking, do the other three dots then start to disappear? That’s motion induced blindness.
Now imagine yourself at a busy crossroads waiting to pull out with pedestrians and other waiting to cross – can you spot that motorbike approaching?
Or perhaps you’re a a forklift truck driver in a busy warehouse passing by aisles and with pallet movers and pedestrian pickers all around you.
Use the video above in your training sessions when you have fork lift truck refreshers or new driver training, hold a toolbox talks for those who drive as part of their job (road users or otherwise) or ask us to complete a toolbox talk on your behalf to raise awareness.
How to combat motion induced blindness
You may still be wondering, why the jet fighter image at the top of the page? Fighter pilots are taught a technique to overcome this weakness in the way we process our view of the world around us and its very simple but very effective – you keep you head moving. Don’t believe me? Keep moving your head whilst re-watching the video above and you’ll see the difference – make sure that’s a key part of your training session.
As always, we hope you’ve found the information above interesting and feel you can use it to make a positive change in how you actively manage risk in your workplace.
About: Roger Hart is Managing Director of Outsource Safety Ltd, a consultancy specialising in ISO9001, ISO14001 and OHSAS18001 Management Systems. The company employs 10 staff and works for hundreds of retained clients across the UK in all sectors from Defence and Aerospace to Education and Museums with a specialism in the contracting, construction and renewables sectors, www.outsource-safety.co.uk