Highway hypnosis, white line fever — whatever name you may know it by, you know it’s real, and it’s dangerous. When driving on an open highway for an extended period of time, truck drivers can experience a trance-like state commonly known as highway hypnosis.
What Is Highway Hypnosis?
Essentially this is a dulled, drowsy state in which a driver may travel hundreds of miles before awakening to the reality of where they are. Although the name suggests hypnosis, it’s more accurate to describe highway hypnosis as a dissociative state as you’re physically there but may have mentally “checked out”.
How does it happen? It’s actually common and can occur when driving long distances at highway speeds, common routes, driving during sleeping hours or while fatigued. It’s not the same as falling asleep while driving but can have just as serious consequences.
How To Avoid Highway Hypnosis
To avoid highway hypnosis, you should be able to recognize some of the warning signs. When you’re driving be aware of the inability to recall specifics of the last few minutes, any near misses with another vehicle or road obstacle, drifting over the line or sudden muscle stiffness and soreness. All of these are red flags that should not be ignored.
In order to keep yourself and other drivers safe here, are some tips you should consider putting into practice.
- Get Some Fresh Air: Sometimes the best solution is simple. Pull over and stretch your legs for a bit, just a few minutes of being out of your truck can be the recharge you need. Have a tight schedule and don’t feel comfortable stopping? Just roll down your window and let some fresh air into your truck.
- Eat Wisely: If you know you’re going to be hitting a monotonous route after a meal, then opt for something lighter. Eating heavier meals can lead to fatigue and make it harder to focus.
- Power Nap: If you recognize symptoms of fatigue or highway hypnosis, the safest thing to do is to pull over for a quick nap/rest. Drinking caffeine will only put a band aid on your problem and may lead to an energy crash later.
- Practice Defensive Driving: Staying engaged and alert, conscience of other vehicles, the exits you pass, and any potential road hazards, can help stave off highway hypnosis.
- Change Up Entertainment: Before setting out on any trip, download different playlists, podcasts and a variety of musical genres. Whenever you start to feel the effects of highway hypnosis, switch up your music or radio. Some drivers even recommend listening to music you hate to jog your brain.
Avoid the hazards of highway hypnosis by recognizing the symptoms and actively practicing safe driving methods. For more resources exclusively for truck drivers, check out our blog. Then head over to our load board, the largest FREE load board in the world. You can sign up for access here.