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
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
center 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 color or the rpm of the array by
clicking the appropriate buttons.
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