Understanding Human Error in Georgia Auto Accidents


May 17, 2011

A human being has limited abilities when it comes to processing information. These limitations, when combined with certain situations, contribute to Georgia auto accidents. Humans rely on perception, attention, and memory when processing information.

These mental functions serve to allow a human to interpret one’s surroundings and make judgements on the information being processed.

Driving sometimes taxes the limits of one’s ability to perceive and interpret sensory information. Much of the input that is experienced by a driver is visual. However, there may be other sources of input that are auditory, including cell phone conversations or conversations with other passengers. Thoughts that a driver has that are completely unrelated to driving can compete for attention as well.

If conditions on the road change, like traffic increases, weather turns bad limiting visibility, the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or is fatigued, the driver's ability to process sensory information may be reduced increasing the likelihood of a serious auto accident in Georgia. The driver of a car may not be able to process all sensory information available to one’s senses so some of it will be ignored.

Three Main Mental Processing Reasons for Auto Accidents

  • A driver may make a perceptual error. Basically, this means the driver does not see or makes errors in interpreting critical sensory information. This may occur because the light is bad or the sun blinds the driver. When this happens, the driver may fail to see a pedestrian. A driver may also misread the sharpness of a curve in the road or misjudge another car's speed.
  • The driver is mentally focused in one area and misses other information. There can be something right in front of a driver that goes unnoticed because the driver’s full focus has narrowed to another object that has the driver’s full attention.
  • The driver processes the information accurately but makes a judgement error in response. For example, a driver may choose to turn away from a skid rather than into the skid, or the driver may accelerate rather than hitting the brake.

Pre-attentive and Attentive Processing

There are two stages of information processing, pre-attentive or attentive. In the pre-attentive stage, a person's eyes and ears are detecting information without meaning being attached to the information. In this stage, a person can detect color, size, shape and location of something without mentally being able to identify the object or situation. We are actually unaware that our brains are doing this, it happens automatically. We can hold onto this information for as little as a fraction of a second unless we then take the information and it moves into our "attentive" phase.

When a driver chooses to focus on something in his environment for more detailed analysis he is using his attentive abilities to focus his attention. When drivers sense something on one’s periphery, the motorist’s eyes will sometimes move on their own and visually look at the object and then begin to study it further. This is called the attentive stage of information processing. Certain objects in the environment will pop out more so than others. Sometimes it is because these objects are larger, brighter, move or flicker rapidly or are meaningful, familiar or expected.

Information that is attained through attention is housed temporarily in a place called the "working" or short-term memory. This is where it is sitting while a person is making a decision on the input. This only lasts for about 30 seconds. Information that is new comes in and takes the place of old information. This can be a big contributor in auto accidents in Atlanta or throughout Georgia.

A study done recently is a good example of this phenomenon. When drivers were stopped a few hundred yards after passing a roadway sign, the recall by the driver of what that roadway sign said was as low as 18 percent even though they had only passed it seconds before. This really accentuates how a conversation on a cell phone can impede a driver's attentiveness due to the limitations of the "working" memory we use. These limitations on short-term memory often result in fatal Georgia car accidents.

Focus on Driving

Accidents can sometimes occur because drivers accurately perceive and interpret information but fail to respond appropriately because they make the wrong decision or make the right decision but respond inaccurately. What this research shows is that human drivers are fallible. Whether it is the road conditions or information processing that is the cause of a Georgia car accident, these auto accidents are bound to happen as long as there is an abundance of distractions in the environment.

The best defense for any driver is to try and limit the amount of distractions in one’s environment that over-extend a driver’s short-term memory and perception ability. A driver whose perception ability is compromised by driving distractions creates a serious risk of auto accidents in Georgia, which are virtually unavoidable. A driver who understands and is mindful of one’s own limitations can help save lives.

Ultimately, all we can do is try to keep making Georgia roadways safer by taking personal responsibility for driving safer. If you have been seriously injured or you have lost a loved one in a serious motor vehicle accident, the experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients. We are dedicated to our goal of providing exemplary legal services as part of our ongoing commitment to being regarded as the top car accident attorneys in Atlanta and throughout all of Georgia.

Our experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.