Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No See 'Ums

A new report by the World Health Organization says that traffic accidents worldwide kill an estimated 1.27 million people a year -- and that nearly half of these are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

There's a good explanation for this: drivers often don't see them. That's because it is possible to look right at something and still not see all there is to see. This type of accident is so common, in fact, that traffic researchers have a phrase for it: a "looked-but-didn't-see" accident.

For a fantastic illustration of this phenomenon, check out a series of ads by Transport for London. It is using the ads to help make drivers aware of just how hard it can be to see things (like bicyclists) that you aren't looking for. Go ahead and take the test in the ads and see how well you do.

For more information on the phenomeneon, check out the visual cognition lab of Professor Dan Simons. It's great.

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