Visual clutter is a term used to refer to the multitude of items your brain has to process at once when observing your environment. It can be very distracting when driving, and some studies have shown that it could lead to car accidents.

You experience visual clutter every time you get behind the wheel. Some of it is necessary, such as road signs, traffic signals and lights. Some of it is unavoidable, like buildings and other structures built near the roadway. On top of all of this, though, you have things like billboards, advertisements and neon shop signs.

The problem is that your brain has to process and categorize all of this, all while you try to pay attention to traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. Simply driving a car can be complex, especially in modern cars with increased technology, and it’s clear that visual clutter can sometimes overload the brain and hinder your ability to drive.

For instance, a study found that billboards made it harder for drivers to follow directions. They were slower to react and they made more mistakes. They also tended to drive at a slower speed. When eye movements were tracked, it was found that they spent less time scanning the road and watching traffic and more time fixating on the billboards and other signs on the roadside.

Do we need to reconsider how cluttered we allow our roadways to become? This study suggests doing so could help to reduce accidents.

If you’ve been in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you could be facing high medical bills. Be sure you know what legal rights you have.

Source: TML, “The Effects of Visual Clutter on Driving Performance,” Jessica Edquist, accessed Aug. 11, 2017