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What Is Highway Hypnosis?

by | Jan 29, 2018 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

*Blog post updated May 2022

Have you ever arrived home without remembering the drive there? This is a psychological phenomenon called “highway hypnosis,” which is characterized by entering a trance-like state that prevents the brain from processing stimuli as it normally would.

Traffic jam in Los Angeles

According to the BBC, people are most likely to experience highway hypnosis when they are traveling on familiar or mundane roads. Driving in this state is similar to drowsy driving, but there are a few key differences.

For example, you are technically conscious when experiencing highway hypnosis, which means if something was to alter the familiarity of the road ahead or break up the monotony of the environment, you would notice it; however, you might not notice it in time to take evasive action, which highlights the true danger of highway hypnosis.

If you were hurt in a collision with a drowsy or distracted driver, turn to The Downs Law Firm. Ross Downs has been practicing law for more than 20 years, and he is dedicated to helping injured victims secure the compensation they deserve. Call 318-284-8551 to schedule a free case evaluation with an accident attorney in Monroe.

What Is Highway Hypnosis? 

Highway hypnosis refers to a state of reduced brain activity that prevents you from taking in your surroundings or absorbing any new information. Some might describe it as the brain dozing off while the body remains in autopilot, but it is more comparable to multitasking.

If you’ve ever tried to read a newspaper or book in a bustling coffee shop, you probably already know that multitasking is not possible. Although you may be able to switch rapidly from one task to another, no one can focus on two tasks at once.

Rereading the same page over and over without comprehending any of it is a kind of highway hypnosis. Whether you find the content boring—like a long stretch of road—or there are three different conversations vying for your attention—like the to-do list running through your mind as you drive home from work—failing to remember what you have read is similar to forgetting how you arrived home.

How Can You Avoid Highway Hypnosis?

Highway hypnosis is dangerous because it reduces a motorist’s reaction time considerably. By the time you spot a hazard, thus breaking the trance, it may be too late to take evasive action. Motorists can avoid falling victim to highway hypnosis by:

  • Take a break every 90 minutes or so on longer trips;
  • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule;
  • Keeping the vehicle at a cooler temperature; and
  • Changing the radio station often.

Unfortunately, you can do everything in your power to avoid highway hypnosis only to end up in a collision with a drowsy driver. If you were hurt in a crash that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs.

Contact The Downs Law Firm today to discuss your case and determine if you have grounds for a claim. Call 318-284-8551 to schedule a free consultation with an accident lawyer in Monroe.