Avoiding “Highway Hypnosis”

Long trips mean long stretches of highway that seem to go on forever, with nary a change in the scenery.  But keep on looking around anyway, even if there’s “nothing to see” Staring straight ahead is a sure way to develop “highway hypnosis,” a trance-like state in which you may experience hallucinations or lose the ability to gauge the speed at which you’re traveling.

To prevent yourself from turning into a highway hypnotic, the National Traffic Safety Administration suggests you should:

  • Keep your eyes moving, even if you’re the only car on the road.
  • Glance to the sides of the highway, check the rear-view and side-view mirrors, adjust your focus to a spot about 50 feet in front of the car, look at the dashboard, then shift back to the long view.

Remember the tired eyes cause drowsiness and a smaller field of vision, and the result can be a serious accident.  Still you should realize that you can’t beat fatigue forever.  So be alert for these signs of overwhelming tiredness.

  • Do your eyes burn?
  • Are you blinking more?
  • Are lights bothering you?
  • Does your voice sound louder than usual or far away?
  • Do you suddenly realize there’s been a lapse in time that you can’t account for?
  • Has your foot relaxed on the gas pedal so that you find yourself going 40 miles per hour instead of the posted 55 miles per hour you thought  you were doing?

Then it’s time to pull over and call it quits.

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