Highway Hypnosis – Why It Is a Crash Risk and How To Avoid It

image of a vehicle driving at night on an empty highwayHave you ever been driving down the road and suddenly realized you could not remember the last few miles? If so, you have likely experienced highway hypnosis, a phenomenon that could quickly lead to a dangerous crash.

Below, Arnold Law Firm explains more about highway hypnosis, including what it is and why it is a significant crash risk. We also discuss some of the steps you can take to avoid zoning out behind the wheel.

Injured in a crash due to another driver’s negligence? If so, our experienced car crash lawyers in Sacramento are here to help you. Call our law offices anytime of day or night to take advantage of our FREE initial consultation and find out if you may have legal options.

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What Is Highway Hypnosis?

Highway hypnosis, or white line fever, is a mental state people may experience when driving on boring roads, at night or on long road trips. Drivers who zone out in this way may suddenly realize they have driven several miles and do not recall anything about it.

Why Is Driving on Auto Pilot a Crash Risk?

While drivers in this state may see the road, they do not see details and they are not fully alert. Their mind is wandering in a trance-like state, which means they could miss important things on the road, including:

  • Exits or road signs telling them they are going the wrong way
  • Animals, such as deer or other wildlife darting into the road
  • Another vehicle that has suddenly braked in front of them
  • A driver recklessly weaving into the lane in front of them
  • Drifting into other lanes without noticing – even if you have safety features like lane assist
  • Driving through an intersection, stop sign or red light because you failed to “see” it
  • Failing to see cyclists, pedestrians or motorcyclists entering the road or crossing in front of you

While experiencing highway hypnosis, you may be unable to quickly react to potential road hazards in time to avoid a crash.

What Are the Most Likely Causes of Highway Hypnosis?

If you are a driver, you are at risk of highway hypnosis. That’s right. All drivers are susceptible to white line fever, zoning out or highway hypnosis. Whatever you call this mental state, it can creep up on you suddenly. Being aware of the causes and symptoms can help you to avoid it altogether or take preventative steps if it hits you while you are out on the road.

Are There Warning Signs of Highway Hypnosis?

You might feel fine when you first start your journey or daily commute, but be aware if you start noticing these warning signs later down the road. The most common signs of highway hypnosis include:

  • Your eyelids begin to feel heavy, and you start blinking a lot
  • You may have trouble focusing your mental attention on the road or feel foggy-headed
  • Yawning a lot is another major warning sign of highway hypnosis and drowsiness
  • Seeing the road, but feeling disconnected from it or zoned out
  • Drifting or having a hard time staying in your lane of traffic
  • Catching yourself reacting slowly to, or not even noticing, other vehicles
  • Having difficulties maintaining a steady speed; driving too fast without realizing it

If you begin experiencing any of these symptoms, these are key warning signs you are experiencing highway hypnosis. You may also be impaired by fatigue. Being too tired to drive can make you more vulnerable to zoning out behind the wheel.

What You Can Do To Avoid Highway Hypnosis

To avoid highway hypnosis, drivers can try these measures. While simple, these steps can help counteract the monotony and fatigue that often cause drivers to zone out.

Take Regular Breaks

Stopping every couple of hours to rest and stretch is crucial. Rest areas and other designated spots are generally good places to stop for short breaks. This can significantly help you to stay refreshed and maintain alertness.

Stay Engaged

Engage your mind by listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks that interest you. Be careful, however. Music that is too calming could lull you to sleep. If you have passengers, try engaging in conversations. Staying engaged helps keep your mind active and focused on the task at hand.

Vary Driving Conditions

Adjust your position on the road when possible and if you can do so safely. Open a window to let fresh air in or adjust air conditioning.

Avoid Driving When Tired

Ensure you are well-rested before starting a long journey and avoid driving during times when you would normally be asleep. Recognize the signs of fatigue and take proactive measures to prevent it. If you have another driver with you, switch places. When having someone else drive is not possible, find a safe place to pull over and rest for a while.

Hydrate and Snack

Staying hydrated and consuming healthy snacks can help maintain energy levels and alertness. Avoid heavy meals that can make you feel sluggish.

Use Caffeine or Other Alertness Aids Cautiously

While caffeine can provide a temporary boost, it should not replace proper rest. Use such aids cautiously. The better approach is to not drive while tired and make sure you get the rest you need to stay alert and focused.

Implementing these strategies can help drivers avoid highway hypnosis and ensure a safer driving experience.

Contact Arnold Law Firm After a Car Crash Injury

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash due to another driver’s negligence, we urge you to reach out to our firm today.

At Arnold Law Firm, we are committed to our clients and dedicated to securing the full and fair compensation they deserve. With decades of experience and a track record of success, we stand ready to help.

Request a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today. You do not need to visit our office in person. This consultation will help you understand your legal options for recovering compensation for your medical expenses and other losses.

Experienced Lawyers. Millions Recovered. (916) 777-7777