Highway Hypnosis: The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Jul 27, 2017 in FTTF

Learn how to identify and protect yourself from Highway Hypnosis and Drowsy Driving



The drowsy summer heat pulses across the road as you cruise along, entering hour eight of your long-anticipated road trip. As the landscape flies by, you stare straight ahead, awake but not fully engaged with your surroundings. The initial excitement and thrill of driving has long since worn off, and the only sounds that fill the passenger compartment are the pleasant hum of the radio and the distant drone of traffic around you. This scene repeats itself well into hour nine, and you’re driving almost completely on autopilot. Suddenly, your car drifts off the road and onto the rumble strip, and with a jolt, you’re pulled from the trance. As you come to you realize that you have almost no recollection of the past few hours, it’s as if you’re just now waking up from a light nap, and in a way, you are.


What Is Highway Hypnosis?

Highway Hypnosis is a near trance-like state that can occur when a person performs a monotonous task for a long period of time while drowsy. The condition isn’t limited to driving, but on the road is where it presents the most danger. When your mind is engaged in a long, unchanging task like driving, it will assume that since you aren’t actively engaged with the task, it might as well save a little energy and switch a few systems off, putting you in a near sleep-like state that is often compared to deep meditation. Sounds pretty great to just run on autopilot when things get boring right? Well, not so much. 


How Dangerous Is it Really? 

Highway Hypnosis and drowsy driving as a whole have been compared with drunk driving in just how dangerous they are. As your body goes into this resting state, your reaction times plummet. This can lead to some very obvious consequences. Highway Hypnosis is often blamed in accidents where there are no skid marks before the collision. The affected driver’s reactions are slowed to the point where they don’t have time to even apply the brake before a collision occurs. Even in less extreme cases, when someone merges a little too close or the car in front of you slams their breaks, that half second of reaction time can literally mean life or death.


How Can You Prevent It?

So, what can you do about it? Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce your chances of falling into Highway Hypnosis: 

Be Rested:
Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep before any road trips. Being awake and engaged at the wheel is an important part of avoiding highway hypnosis.

Call a Friend:
Don’t let the silence, or even the radio, lull you to sleep.

Switch Drivers:
If you’re not on the trip alone, switching drivers can help to break the monotony.

Take Breaks:
Stopping at a rest stop or gas station and taking a short walk can help to get your mind in focus again. 

Go to Sleep:
If you can’t focus on driving and you feel yourself slipping, it might be time to call it quits, book a hotel, and go to sleep. A little time and money isn’t worth an accident.


Even if you’re alert and active while on your summer road trip, that doesn’t mean that other drivers are. This is why having quality auto insurance is vital. Contact your local Pekin Insurance agent for a free quote on car insurance.





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