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You arrive at your destination and can’t remember how you got there. Did you travel at the speed of light? Did you enter into a warped dimension? Were you abducted by aliens? Or did your vehicle come equipped with a teleportation device? The answer to most of these is probably no. What you likely experienced is a condition that happens to thousands of drivers called highway hypnosis.
Often, highway hypnosis decreases the ability to respond to unexpected events in a safe manner—increasing the likelihood of a car crash. Notably, the condition affects more than those operating motor vehicles on the roadways. There are also reports of highway hypnosis affecting train drivers.
What is highway hypnosis?
Sometimes called white line fever, highway hypnosis causes drivers to enter into a trance-like state. Often, this condition occurs when driving for long periods of time. Drivers who experience the condition report being lulled into a dull and trance-like state. Drivers may zone out for short distances, hundreds of miles or for the entire duration of their trip. However, the condition should not be confused with drowsy driving.
In fact, highway hypnosis is a form of distracted driving that occurs because there is an absence of other stimulants.
What is the difference between white line fever and drowsy driving?
Highway hypnosis is an example of automatic driving or automaticity. Automaticity is the ability to carry out tasks without occupying the mind with low-level details. When we repeat a task, we become so familiar with it that we are able to do it without thinking about it. For example, you may not realize that you don’t even remember your morning commute to work or afternoon drive home. This is because driving is one of the daily tasks we do that becomes automatic from muscle memory. Other examples of automaticity include the following:
- Riding a bike
- Assembly line work
- Sports such as basketball player shooting a free throw or a quarterback throwing a ball
The ability to perform an action or skill unconsciously adequately affects every part of our life. While automaticity is important for higher-order thinking, it can actually make driving less safe.
Where does highway hypnosis happen?
In most cases of highway hypnosis, the type of road that you are driving can contribute to the condition. Long stretches of highway with very little happening, such as no stoplights or very little traffic can lull your brain into a hypnotic state. However, roads with frequent stops or changes in scenery can keep your brain alert.
Motorcycle riders should also be aware of white line fever. While it happens less often, the condition can also affect bikers on long rides.
How does highway hypnosis cause car crashes?
Highway hypnosis leads to a dangerous lapse in concentration. When drivers zone out, they are no longer present in the moment. White line fever is a driving distraction that occurs because there are no other distractions to keep the driver from retreating into their minds. When parts of your brain aren’t communicating, it can reduce driver reactions and increase the possibility of auto collisions.
Truck driver highway hypnosis
White line fever is a very real factor in many fatal trucking crashes. Unfortunately, it is not a condition that is widely discussed in preventing trucking crashes. As trucking accident attorneys, we understand that even the most skilled truckers can end up in situations where they’ve caused a crash and can’t remember how it occurred.
Highway hypnosis is the primary explanation for when an unexplainable trucking crash happens. More than any other driver on the road, truckers drive for long distances and long periods of time. While it is crucial that they drive without distractions, they need to keep their minds alert.
How to avoid highway hypnosis?
Driving requires personal responsibility. In many cases, pursuing legal action can be difficult if you were the at-fault driver. In order to remain safe on the road, you must avoid the very things that can lead to you causing a crash. The following tips will help you avoid highway hypnosis:
- Take a break.
- Avoid driving during your normal sleeping hours.
- Map out your rest spots.
- Keep your eyes moving and check your rear-view and side mirrors often.
- Read all the road signs and traffic around you.
- Talk to your passengers.
- Keep the temperature cool with plenty of fresh air.
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
If you’ve been injured in a car crash, The Carlson Law Firm can help. You need a powerful attorney on your side who will defend your rights. We are a leading personal injury law firm that has been protecting your rights for more than 40 years. If you suffered car crash injuries, contact The Carlson Law Firm to speak with a qualified attorney. We can help you determine the next steps in the aftermath of your car crash. Take on the insurance industry with a Carlson Car Crash Attorney by your side.