It’s not a term you hear often, but it’s a real thing – highway hypnosis. You may have experienced it at some point. Both of your hands on the steering wheel. Your eyes on the road – as they should be. But what about your mind?
What is highway hypnosis?
Highway hypnosis isn’t exactly drowsy driving, as those who experience it are awake. Nor is it distracted driving if a driver’s hands are on the wheel and eyes on the road.
It’s more of a drifting of consciousness while behind the wheel. Drivers who have a lot on their minds may not be fully attentive, even if they appear to be. One Houston driver describes highway hypnosis as “just driving the same path every single day and sometimes I’ll just show up and I don’t remember getting here.”
Highway hypnosis is common in daily commutes, when drivers take the same route they’ve traveled many times before. They know where all the highway exits and traffic signals are, unlike driving in an area they may be unfamiliar with.
The danger highway hypnosis poses
According to Wayne State University professor Randall Commissaris, highway hypnosis is the mind’s “defense against sensory overload” and is “probably not a real safety hazard.”
Any state of mind that negatively impacts attentiveness can result in a careless mistake. In order to prevent this from happening, Sgt. Erik Burse of the Texas Department of Public Safety offers some tips:
- Frequently changing driving routes so they don’t become too routine
- Get plenty of rest before embarking on a long drive
- Take periodic breaks on long-distant drives
- Trade off driving duties with a passenger (if one is available)
What we know about dazed driving
Drowsy driving is a common problem that has resulted in nearly 800 fatalities across the United States in 2017. Distracted driving is an even greater problem that has taken more than 3,000 lives in 2017.
In contrast, the number of accidents caused by dazed driving is unknown. The only way to tell if a crash was caused by a driver’s mind drifting, is if the at-fault driver admits to it. Otherwise, there are no traces left behind identifying highway hypnosis as a factor in a crash.
What we do know is that any driver whose careless mistake results in a crash is at fault.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, an experienced Houston attorney at Tracey & Fox can help you build a solid claim. Don’t wait. Contact us today for a free, confidential case evaluation.