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Inattention Blindness Puts Kids at Risk of Pedestrian Deaths

Young children are one of the two groups most likely to be killed in a pedestrian crash. The elderly are the other. Motorists need to be aware of young children on the roads and pay careful attention to avoid a collision. While young people also need to do their part in looking both ways before crossing the road, children’s brains may actually be less capable of identifying when a vehicle is approaching them unexpectedly.

This means if a driver runs a red light, fails to yield the right-of-way or otherwise makes an unexpected and unsafe move in his vehicle, kids may not be able to react in time to avoid getting badly hurt.

Children’s brains do not fully develop until they reach adulthood, and those who are under the age of 10 have one particular weakness that can significantly increase the chances they will be hurt in a pedestrian accident: inattention blindness or perceptual blindness.

Drivers need to be aware of the risks kids present on the roads and motorists should behave in a safe way to reduce the danger to kids. A Beloit car accident lawyer can help family members after kids are injured or killed in a crash pursue legal action against a driver who caused harm to the child pedestrian.

Perceptual Blindness and Accident Risks for Children

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published information on the results of a study related to perceptual or inattention blindness. The study included 480 school children of both genders who were asked to watch several brief videos. During each 30-second video of people playing basketball, the kids between the ages of 8 and 15 were told to count how frequently players in white jerseys passed the ball.

In one of the 30-second basketball videos the kids were watching, a man in a gorilla suit entered the screen for around nine seconds. After the video had ended, researchers asked the children to describe whether they had seen something unexpected.

Only 43 percent of the children who had watched the video reported noticing the gorilla. Older children were much more likely to have noticed. Just 15 percent of children aged 8 saw the gorilla, compared with 32 percent of 10 year olds and 31 percent of 9 year olds. The children did not see the gorilla because the brains of young people do not respond effectively to unexpected stimuli.

This is dangerous because if a child is walking down a street or playing on a road and a motor vehicle does something surprising, the child may not see it or react in time to protect himself from harm.  By the time a child is 11, the perceptual blindness of younger children all but disappears. Until that age, however, the child is especially vulnerable to the risk of a pedestrian crash.

Drivers need to know that kids are at greater risk of becoming crash victims and they need to exercise reasonable care when operating their vehicles in school zones, residential neighborhoods and other areas where lots of kids are likely to be. If a driver behaves unsafely and kids get hurt, an accident lawyer in Beloit can help the victim’s family members pursue a claim for compensation for losses.