It has become so hard to pay attention in the modern world that a Georgetown professor called the ability to stay focused “the superpower of the 21st century.”
Truckers just don’t have a choice. When you’re driving 80,000 pounds down the highway, you can’t afford to let your attention slide for even a minute. If you do, the results can be catastrophic for you and everyone around you.
We all know that texting is a major source of distraction while you’re driving, but there are other, sneakier attention thieves that can steal your focus while you drive.
Crazy Things That Contribute To Driver Distraction
1. Worrying about money. Researchers found that subjects who were worried about their financial situations experienced a significant drop in concentration. They even scored worse on IQ tests. You might not think that the amount of money that you have in the bank has anything to do with how you drive — but you might also be mistaken.
2. Too many road signs. While some road signs are essential for helping drivers get where they need to go, many traffic experts say that too many signs not only distract us, they also put us into a complacent state — making us less likely to pay attention when we’re driving. The city of Drachten in the Netherlands joined the “naked street” movement and saw a reduction in road fatalities and even increased traffic efficiency. Why? They say that without signs, drivers are better at paying attention and communicating with each other.
3. Being a sports fan.
The Nebraska State Patrol recently posted this image to their Facebook page. According to the NSP, during a routine stop a trooper noticed the truck driver that he’d pulled over was wearing earbuds. When the trooper climbed the step to talk to the driver, he noticed that a cell phone taped to the steering wheel. When the trooper asked the driver what he was doing, the driver replied, “watching a soccer game”. The $200 fine he received should get his attention back on the road.
4. You miss the gorilla. In a famous study, 42% of participants did not see the gorilla in the video below.
How is that possible? Researchers blame inattentional blindness, defined as an inability to see an unexpected object when you’re concentrating hard on something else. Psychologists say that inattentional blindness often affects drivers, causing then not to see traffic lights or a car slamming on its brakes.
5. Letting billboards get to you. Canadian researchers have discovered that emotional language on billboards can have a significant impact on the way that you drive. Negative emotionally charged language caused drivers to slow down, but also to veer out of their own lanes. Billboard language that caused positive feelings in drivers made them speed up.