Disorientation whilst backing up car next to one pulling out

  • #1
curious mama
I was backing up our very large, high van into a parking spot today and then my parked neighbor to my right started pulling forward out of his spot as he had also backed in when he had parked. I certainly saw this movement not only in my periphery but also a bit in my line of sight as I was watching my backup camera. All of a sudden, I became so disoriented. Though I was braking, it felt like I was moving and I panicked. I pushed hard down on the brake and still truly thought my van had somehow started moving forward on its own and malfunctioned. To convince myself that I wasn't moving (or just to stop what I thought was an out of control van), I shifted immediately into park. This lasted approx. 3-5 seconds but felt like much longer. Does anyone know what this phenomenon is that would cause such disorientation?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
14,399
11,712
I don't know the name but the experience. I had it more often as a child. All of a sudden the feeling for sizes or in this case movements got out of their way. I think you can quite easily simulate it in a train when leaving the station. If you're in the right mood, you can imagine the station moves, not the train. Sorry, that I have no name for it.
 
  • #3
CWatters
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Gold Member
10,532
2,298
I believe pilots call it spatial disorientation. It occurs most frequently to them at night or bad weather. Can feel like you are banking, climbing or diving when you arent or lead you to mistrust your instruments.

In your case it's likely that your senses were giving you conflicting messages. Eg your sense of touch telling you are moving or braking in one direction while your eyes (seeing the other car) are telling you that you are moving in another.

More..

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spatial_disorientation
 
Last edited:
  • #4
anorlunda
Staff Emeritus
Insights Author
9,153
6,144
It happens to people on a train in the station beside another train. You see relative motion between the two trains, but your mind can jump back and forth trying to interpret which train is moving.

I think @CWatters is right, spatial disorientation. Your mind tries to make a mental model consistent with your senses.
When the model fails, you're disoriented.
 
  • #5
russ_watters
Mentor
20,285
6,865
Out brains automatically/unconsciously integrate multiple sensory inputs to determine the body's state of motion, then it reports the conclusion to our conscious thought. If it comes to the wrong conclusion, it tells you you are moving when you are not (or vice versa). At the same time, you can consciously decide whether you are moving or not. If you come to a different conclusion, it creates an uncomfortable conflict.

What I wonder is if our subconscious can be trained to accept other inputs or if it would have to evolve.
 
  • #7
ChemAir
Gold Member
158
158
After looking at the link, the specific type of spatial disorientation is Vection.

For me, the worst is backing up and seeing an adjacent car backing up at the same speed out of my periphery. Inner ear says I am moving backward, but peripheral vision says I'm staying still. This is usually reason enough for me to hit the brake suddenly.

It seems to be worse if I'm looking down at a backup camera than if I have my head up, looking at mirrors.
 
  • Like
Likes berkeman
  • #8
anorlunda
Staff Emeritus
Insights Author
9,153
6,144
After looking at the link, the specific type of spatial disorientation is Vection.
Yup, that sounds correct.
 

Related Threads on Disorientation whilst backing up car next to one pulling out

  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
7K
  • Last Post
Replies
13
Views
54K
Replies
45
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
10
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
2K
Top