Highway hypnosis can be dangerousRoad trips are a popular getaway once the weather warms up. People take to the roads in droves, whether for vacations or simply to enjoy the scenery along the way. With more people on the highways, there could be a heightened risk of accidents for a number of reasons.
By: Staff, RiverTown Multimedia
Though road rage, driving while intoxicated and other road dangers are well documented, many people do not know about something called highway hypnosis - which could be responsible for erratic driving on roadways.
Think about a time when you were behind the wheel of a car on a long stretch of road, such as an interstate. Perhaps you lost track of the exits you passed or wondered how you ended up in a particular location when you don’t remember getting there. Maybe you actually fell asleep or drifted off of the road.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, the main cause of roadway departure crashes is driver drowsiness and inattention. Driver fatigue is often caused by highway hypnosis.
Highway hypnosis, also known as “white line fever,” occurs when someone has been driving a vehicle along a long stretch of roadway for an extended period of time. The monotony of a long drive can induce sleepiness or forgetfulness. It can lull the brain into a sort of trance, and the body is essentially operating on auto pilot while the mind is off somewhere else. Highway hypnosis is most common during the late-night hours when the time of day also plays a role in drowsiness.
The concept of highway hypnosis is nothing new. In fact, engineers who created the Indiana Toll Road in 1957 designed curves every two miles on average to allow for a variation in the road conditions. Many other roadways are built with rumble strips or other variations in the scenery to reduce the monotony of the road.
Highway hypnosis occurs more than people would like to believe. However, there are ways to help prevent highway hypnosis.
Take frequent rests on a long trip to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.
Try not to drive during the hours that you are normally sleeping.
Bring a road trip partner along and make conversation.
Don’t eat a big meal before beginning a long car ride.
Open the windows and get circulation going.
Keep your eyes moving between your mirrors and the road to improve conscious thought.
If you are still unable to fend of feelings of drowsiness or some of the other symptoms of hypnosis, pull over and take a long rest until you feel more capable to drive.
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