What is Highway Hypnosis and How to Prevent It

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Highway hypnosis, also known as “white line fever,” is a mental state in which a person can drive a car or other vehicle for great distances, responding to external events in the expected, safe and correct manner with no recollection of having consciously done so. In this state, the driver’s conscious mind is apparently fully focused elsewhere, while seemingly deep under a sort of self-hypnosis.

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Defining Highway Hypnosis

Highway hypnosis occurs typically during long drives across monotonous routes, such as highways or straightaways in rural areas, where the repetitive motion and constant hum of road noise can lead to a semi-trance state. It is a form of automatic pilot for human beings, while the brain remains alert enough to handle the operation of the vehicle, it’s almost as if the driver is functioning on auto-pilot.

Risk Factors of Highway Hypnosis

While in this hypnotic state, drivers may have slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and reduced situational awareness. The main danger of highway hypnosis is that it can lead to accidents if the driver’s subdued consciousness doesn’t snap back to full alertness when a quick response is necessary.

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How to Prevent Highway Hypnosis

Avoiding highway hypnosis is crucial for safe driving. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Brannon Law Firm discuss various strategies you can employ to prevent falling into this hypnotic state while on the road.

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Maintain Engagement

Actively think about your maneuvers, scan your environment, and vary your speed periodically to keep your brain engaged. Perform small physical exercises such as gripping the steering wheel tightly or moving your fingers to the music to keep your senses alert.

Take Regular Breaks

Plan to stop every hour or two to stretch your legs, get some fresh air, or have a snack. If you feel tired, pull over to a safe place and take a 15-to-20-minute nap to recharge your energy levels.

Ensure Good Sleep Before Driving

Ensure that you start your journey well-rested, aiming for at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep the night prior.  Our bodies are programmed to sleep when it’s dark, so try to avoid driving when you would normally be asleep.

Adjust the Cabin Environment

Sit so that you are comfortable but also alert. Avoid overly reclining your seat. Keep the temperature cool rather than warm and comfortable, which can lead to drowsiness.

Use Stimulants Sparingly

Caffeinated drink such as coffee or energy drinks can offer a temporary increase in alertness, but use them sparingly as they can lead to crashes in energy later on. The act of chewing can increase circulation and alertness.

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Utilize In-Vehicle Technology

Used wisely, cruise control can prevent your speed from creeping up or down as you drive. However, remain engaged and ready to take manual control at all times. Some newer car models come equipped with alert systems that can detect erratic driving and alert the driver.

Keep Your Vision Moving

Avoid staring. Keep your eyes moving, checking mirrors and speed regularly. Look to the sides of the road, not just at the white lines in front of you.

Share Driving Duties

If possible, travel with someone who can share the driving responsibilities, allowing you to rest without stopping your journey.

Highway Hypnosis Can Be Beat!

Highway hypnosis is a condition that affects many drivers, often without them even realizing it. It’s a state of dulled awareness that can be hazardous on long, uneventful drives. Prevention hinges on preparation, maintaining physical and mental engagement, and managing your environment.

By incorporating these strategies into your traveling routine, you can protect yourself and others on the road from the potential dangers of highway hypnosis. Stay alert, stay safe.

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John Miller

John Miller is a cars enthusiast who loves writing anything related to automobiles. He is a passionate blogger writing for innovatecar.com and other auto blogs