It’s one of the cleverest and most cerebral public service ads that I’ve seen — a mini-whodunnit made by the transport authority for Greater London to drive home this message:
It’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for.
On a busy road this could be fatal.
Look out for cyclists.
Transport for London, responsible for most aspects of transportation in the British capital, including a bicycle-sharing program, explains the rationale behind the public service video in a webpage on cycling safety:
A passer-by asks you for directions. As you talk to him, two workmen walk between you carrying a door. In a flash the passer-by switches places with one of the workmen, and you are left giving directions to a different person. Do you think you would notice?
Researchers at Harvard University played this trick on some unsuspecting people and over 50 percent failed to spot the change.
This phenomenon is known as “change blindness” — only a tiny fraction of all the information going into your brain enters your consciousness. People often fail to see a change in their surroundings because their attention is elsewhere.
Even stranger, if you are concentrating on something, you can become blind to other events that you would normally notice. This “inattention blindness” is possibly the reason why motorists collide with cyclists.
The whodunnit video tests your awareness. Watch carefully. You’ll be tested at the end.