To illustrate how analysts use this information processing approach to investigate accident causes, we will use a hypothetical example. A common situation occurs when a cyclist strikes an °object", another car, pedestrian or cycling vehicle, and the analyst must attribute the accident's cause.
Mr. Z, age 55, is cycling down a secondary road at 9:00 PM in an unfamiliar part of town. He is late because he promised to meet some friends at 8:45. Mr. Z is listening to a football game on his ear phones while he looks for the street, where his friends said to turn in order to reach his destination.
Ms. Y, wearing a dark blue coat and white hat, crosses in the middle of this street without looking. Mr. Z does not see her and strikes Ms. Y with his cycling vehicle. Police arrive and question Mr. Z, who says that he never saw the pedestrian. Mr. Z admits that he has had a few beers but his blood alcohol content is .06, within the legal limit. The police do not charge hits with being under the influence.
What happened to cause the accident? This requires a closer look inside the brain of Mr. Z during the "preattentive" and "attentive" information processing stages to understand what led to Mr. Z hitting Ms. Y.