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Understanding the dangers of highway hypnosis

If you ever arrived at your destination and cannot remember driving there or snapped out of a daze and realized that you drove past your exit, you may have experienced highway hypnosis.

Besides being disorienting, highway hypnosis is dangerous and can lead to serious car accidents.

Causes

Driving along a monotonous road, a well-known route, while tired or for long periods of time can lead to highway hypnosis. These factors can build upon each other. For example, driving for long periods of time increases the likelihood of fatigue, which gets worse if your drive consists of a monotonous route. This can decrease your alertness behind the wheel and lead to distracted driving.

Certain environmental factors can contribute to fatigue and increase the chances of highway hypnosis, such as,

  • Large meals
  • Warm vehicle
  • Inadequate rest
  • Certain medications
  • White noise

Using cruise control takes away an important task and gives you less to think about, which may lead to wandering thoughts.

Warning signs

It can be difficult to detect the warning signs, as drivers typically slip into highway hypnosis without realizing it. The warning signs include:

  • Frequent blinking
  • Loss of concentration
  • Slow reaction times
  • Wandering thoughts
  • Sleepiness

If there is another person in the car with you, they may notice that your response times have slowed down, you are drifting in your lane or you have a blank stare on your face.

Driving a vehicle without paying proper attention to your surroundings can lead to serious consequences. Distracted drivers can hit other vehicles, pedestrians or stationary objects.