Have you ever been driving, and once you reach your destination and park your car, you realize you can’t remember parts of the drive? Or have you driven down endless stretches of road and missed your exit without a second thought? Maybe you’ve gone through an intersection and later can’t even remember if the light was green? Then you might have entered a state of highway hypnosis.
Highway hypnosis can occur when you drive for an extended period of time, and it’s a lot like driving on auto-pilot or driving while in a sleep state. While it can be difficult to avoid highway hypnosis, this hypnotic state can make it extremely difficult for someone to drive safely, and they can put themselves and others at risk for injury.
If you have been the victim of an accident caused by fatigued driving or highway hypnosis, the Sandy Springs auto accident lawyers at Ashenden & Associates are here to help. Our expert injury attorneys are prepared to fight on your behalf and help you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us at 770-394-8909 to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team.
What is Highway Hypnosis?
Highway hypnosis, also known as white line fever or driving hypnosis, is a trance-like state that drivers can fall into when driving. When driving down boring roads, our minds can wander, which can cause our subconscious mind to take over and do the task of driving for us. We may even do things like turn on our turn signals or change lanes while in this sort of trance.
Experiencing Highway Hypnosis – What it Feels Like
If you have been driving for a decent bit of time, then chances are that you’ve already experienced highway hypnosis. Highway hypnosis can put you into a trance or dream-like state, where you may not be fully aware of your surroundings or actions. You may even fall asleep or feel like you’ve fallen asleep, even if your eyes were open. When you come out of this less-alert mode, you may have a difficult time recalling what you’ve been doing or seeing.
Why Does Highway Hypnosis Happen?
Highway hypnosis occurs for a variety of reasons and can happen in different environments. Below are some of the primary contributing factors that can lead someone to experience highway hypnosis.
Road hypnosis often occurs when a driver is stuck driving down a very monotonous road like a highway. Obeying traffic lights and road signs requires concentration, but when driving down a highway or interstate, you most likely won’t be stopping very often. This can cause you to lose focus and go into autopilot mode.
A lack of brain alertness can also cause people to experience highway hypnosis. If you have trouble concentrating on tasks, you may have a more difficult time staying focused on the road when driving long distances.
Highway hypnosis acts a lot like drowsy driving, which can also put drivers and their passengers at risk for injury. If you don’t get a good night’s sleep the night before a long trip, you may be more susceptible to driving hypnosis, or you may even fall asleep behind the wheel.
Not only does driver fatigue contribute to highway hypnosis, but it also increases the chances of a car accident. According to the National Safety Council, tired drivers are about three times more likely to be in a car accident than other, less-fatigued drivers.
What Are the Dangers of Highway Hypnosis?
Zoning out while doing a repetitive task isn’t something unique to driving: many people let their minds wander while at their desks, doing chores, and going about their daily routine. For example, you may get ready for work in the morning, and right as you step out the door, you realize you can’t recall most of what you just did.
In certain contexts, these automatic behaviors can be relatively harmless. Zoning out while driving, however, can have much more serious consequences when drivers enter this hypnotic state while on the road, they are more likely to cause a car accident, which can put the well-being of themselves, their passengers, and the occupants of other cars at risk of suffering serious bodily injury or even death.
White line fever and drowsy driving can both cause a driver to experience slow reaction time, which can make it extremely difficult for them to be a good defensive driver. If there is an object in the road ahead of them, they may not be able to react fast enough to avoid it.
With this slower reaction time, they also may not notice that they are drifting off of the side of the road fast enough to course correct, which can cause them to crash into a road sign, barrier, tree, or other vehicle. This can be especially destructive and dangerous if the driver is operating a large, heavy vehicle like a truck or 18-wheeler.
What Are the Warning Signs of Highway Hypnosis?
When your brain begins to enter this hypnotic state while driving, you or your passengers may begin to notice that you have a slow reaction time or a glassy-eyed stare. You may even begin to drift into the next lane or drive over the rumble strip along the shoulder.
If you notice that you cannot seem to track things with your eyes and mind, if you feel drowsy despite getting a lot of rest before the drive, or if you just can’t stay alert in general while driving, you may be experiencing highway hypnosis.
How to Prevent Highway Hypnosis
It can seem difficult to avoid highway hypnosis since it tends to happen unexpectedly. However, there are tips and tricks that you can use to prevent it from happening. If you begin to experience some of the warning signs of highway hypnosis, or you know that you’re approaching some long stretches of boring road, try some of these tips to keep yourself alert behind the wheel.
Take Bathroom and Coffee Breaks
One good way to curb highway hypnosis symptoms is to take frequent breaks. You should avoid driving for longer than 2 hours without stopping, and for every 4.5 hours of driving, you should be breaking for at least 45 minutes. If you’ve been driving for a while or you feel yourself getting bored, pull into a rest stop or gas station parking lot, stretch your legs, and get some fresh air. You can also stop to take a bathroom break if you need to.
Driving for long periods of time without resting your eyes and brain can cause you to experience fatigued driving in addition to highway hypnosis. If you feel yourself getting tired, you can also stop and get coffee or another energizing drink.
Talk to Passengers or Sing
You can also avoid highway hypnosis by talking to passengers. This helps your brain stay alert and awake, which can help keep you from falling into that trance-like state. If you’re alone, you can also sing along to music. If you know you’re about to go on a long trip, make yourself a playlist of upbeat music or throwback songs that you know will keep you entertained and engaged. If you find yourself getting drowsy, try to avoid slow music, as it might make you more sleepy.
Change Your Environment
Changing your environment within the car can also help minimize your chances of road hypnosis. If you feel yourself getting bored on a long journey, try rolling down the windows or turning on the air conditioning. That additional stimulus can help keep you alert and aware of your surroundings.
Maintain Good Posture
Another great way to avoid highway hypnosis is to have good, upright posture. While it can be difficult to maintain good posture for the entirety of a long road trip, slouching or hunching over the steering wheel may cause you to become a little too relaxed, which can increase fatigue. Driving with an upright seat can help prevent fatigue and ensure that you are able to see more of your surroundings.
Avoid Using Cruise Control
If you feel yourself getting tired or you have started to experience some of the symptoms of highway hypnosis, try not to rely too heavily on your car’s cruise control. While it may be tempting to turn it on when driving long distances, concentrating on maintaining the speed limit on your own can help you concentrate on the road and not get completely lost in thought.
Change Your Route
If you are making a drive that you’ve made a couple of times in the past, you may be familiar with the sights along the way. If you know the route you’re taking has a long, monotonous stretch of road, try taking a different route. The new scenery can help keep your brain engaged, which can decrease your chances of experiencing highway hypnosis.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Since highway hypnosis tends to go hand in hand with fatigued driving, be sure to get several hours of sound sleep before a long road trip or drive. Falling asleep behind the wheel can have severe consequences that can affect you, your passengers, and other drivers that you share the road with. If you catch yourself getting drowsy, try parking your car and taking a short nap before continuing your journey.
Can You Sue for Distracted or Drowsy Driving?
Yes, if you are in an accident that was caused by a drowsy driver or a distracted driver, you can sue for damages and recover compensation for your losses. All drivers on the road owe other drivers what is called a “duty of care,” which means that they are expected to behave responsibly while driving. If they breach this duty of care and cause someone else to suffer from injuries, they can be found negligent in a personal injury lawsuit.
Highway hypnosis can be considered distracted driving, which is negligent driving. Drowsy driving is also considered negligent. This means that if someone fails to avoid highway hypnosis or drowsy driving, and they cause an accident, they can be found liable for all of the damages their negligence caused.
If you have been the victim of a car crash as a result of fatigued driving or highway hypnosis, call the Georgia car accident attorneys at Ashenden & Associates. With over 50 years of combined legal experience, you can rest assured that your case will be handled with the care and attention it deserves. Call us today at 770-394-8909 and schedule your free consultation.
Car Accident Damages
Car accidents can cause a great deal of physical, emotional, and financial stress for victims and their family members. Victims of highway hypnosis car accidents can recover compensation for damages, such as:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of earning ability;
- Property damage;
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress; and
- Burial and funeral expenses, in the case of wrongful death.
Call Sandy Springs Car Accident Lawyers at Ashenden & Associates Today
Fatigued driving and highway hypnosis are avoidable. When someone allows themselves to fall into a state of highway hypnosis, or someone gets behind the wheel while incredibly tired, they are putting themselves and others at risk for injury and even death.
If you or a loved one have suffered from injuries as a result of a car accident, the lawyers at Ashenden & Associates will help you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Call us at 770-394-8909 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our personal injury lawyers.