If you do one task for a significant amount of time, you could enter a trance-like state and forget some of the time you spent completing the task. If this happens while you are driving it is called highway hypnosis and it is extremely dangerous.
While any driver could experience highway hypnosis, it is more likely for commercial truck drivers. They are frequently on the road for long stretches of time, and often at night. In this state, truck drivers may not realize how fast they are going or fail to notice an approaching hazard. This could result in a catastrophic collision.
Below, we discuss the phenomenon of highway hypnosis and why it is so dangerous. We also discuss what you need to know about seeking compensation if you were injured in a highway hypnosis crash caused by another driver.
Defining Highway Hypnosis
Highway hypnosis is sometimes called “white line fever.” If you have been on the road for a long time, staring at the road ahead can have a hypnotic effect on your mind.
Drivers in this trance-like state may experience symptoms similar to drivers who are drowsy. For example, you might nod off or fall asleep at the wheel. You might miss an object in the road, even though your eyes are open and the object is large enough to be clearly visible.
When experiencing highway hypnosis, you may not necessarily be conscious of what you are doing. When you finally reach your destination, you might not even remember how you got there.
Drivers often do not snap out of their trance-like state unless something causes them to do so, such as a passenger or an approaching hazard. There are also times when the only thing that causes drivers to snap out of their hypnotic state is an accident.
Why Does Highway Hypnosis Happen?
There is a greater risk of highway hypnosis when you are traveling a long distance, particularly if you are on a relatively straight road where the scenery does not change much. You could also experience highway hypnosis during the daytime, although this condition is more likely to occur at night.
Entering a trance-like state may be more likely when you are traveling a familiar route. A common example of this is if you leave work with the intention of running an errand before going home. In this state, you may completely forget about stopping anywhere because you are settled into the routine of driving straight home. You might make a turn without even thinking about it because that is what you always do.
Dangers of Highway Hypnosis
Drivers who are experiencing highway hypnosis are likely to see their critical faculties and conscious awareness become disengaged. This is dangerous because you are less likely to see and respond to hazardous situations. For example, you might rear-end an approaching car because you are so used to driving with no vehicles in front of you.
There are many examples of reckless driving that may occur if you experience highway hypnosis, including:
- Drifting out of your lane
- Drifting off the road
- Running through a stop sign without even slowing down
- Driving the wrong way
- Rear-ending another car
- Not using your turn signal
Sometimes when a driver snaps out of his or her hypnotic state, he or she might lose control of the vehicle. This is particularly dangerous for truck drivers, as these vehicles take longer to slow down or stop. It is also much more difficult to take evasive action to avoid a collision, such as changing lanes.
Highway hypnosis could make you more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel. If this happens you might cross the center line and drift into oncoming traffic.
Even if something causes you to become more conscious of what you are doing, such as screeching tires or a honking horn, you might not have enough time to react to prevent a crash.
Warning Signs to Watch For
One of the telltale signs of highway hypnosis is forgetting part of your trip. For example, you might miss your exit off the highway and not remember the last few miles you drove.
Other potential signs of highway hypnosis include:
- Taking an unusually long time to react to danger
- Blinking frequently
- Struggling to concentrate on driving
- Feeling sleepy
- Feeling confused
- Eyelids feeling heavy
Seeking Compensation for a Highway Hypnosis Crash
If you were injured in a crash, you may not need to prove the driver was asleep or suffering from highway hypnosis. Your Lafayette-based auto accident lawyer may only need to establish that the driver was negligent in the operation of his or her motor vehicle. For example, if the other driver drifted into your lane and hit your vehicle, your lawyer would need to prove the other driver failed to stay in his or her lane.
Evidence of highway hypnosis or drowsy driving may help to bolster your claim about failing to stay in a lane. For example, if a witness saw the driver blinking or rubbing his or her eyes, this may indicate drowsiness or lack of concentration on driving.
Your lawyer may be able to work backward from the damage to your vehicle to determine what caused the collision. For example, some types of crashes are more likely to be caused by highway hypnosis. This could include head-on collisions, rear-end collisions, sideswipes and T-bone crashes.
Preventing Highway Hypnosis
Highway hypnosis often happens at night, so you may want to avoid driving long distances then, particularly during hours when you would normally be asleep. If you feel tired and someone else is in the car with you, you may want to allow them to drive.
If possible, take an alternative route to your destination. For example, if you usually drive down a long, dark road, you may want to try a more scenic route with more lighting. This may help to keep your mind from entering a trance-like state.
Getting a good night’s sleep is also important to prevent highway hypnosis and drowsy driving. You may think you can overcome a lack of sleep with caffeine, but this does not work as well as many people think it does.
Were You Injured in a Crash Caused by Negligence? Call Galloway Jefcoat
While there can be many reasons for a crash, most of these reasons fall into the category of driver negligence. That means if you were injured in a collision, another driver is likely at fault. If that is the case, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your damages.
If you have legal questions following a collision, call Galloway Jefcoat’s experienced lawyers to schedule a free consultation. Many crash victims fare much better in the legal process if they are represented by an experienced attorney.
Free consultation. Call today: (337) 984-8020.