Driving an 18-wheeler is a physically and mentally demanding job. Drivers may spend hours on end driving long distances, often on interstate highways.
During these long trips, drivers are at risk of experiencing a dangerous phenomenon known as highway hypnosis.
Understanding highway hypnosis
Highway hypnosis is an altered mental state that often occurs on long, monotonous drives. Long-haul truck drivers are especially susceptible. In highway hypnosis, the driver enters a trance-like state, going through the motions of operating the vehicle without any conscious memory of having done so.
A driver experiencing highway hypnosis may drive for a long time without incident if the road conditions are perfect. However, a driver in a state of hypnosis is not fully alert. This means that an unexpected event, such as an animal darting into the road, could lead to an accident. In addition, the driver may unconsciously increase his or her speed, increasing the risk of a crash.
Other names for highway hypnosis include “white line fever” and “driving without awareness.”
Preventing highway hypnosis
Rest and sleep are important for truck drivers, but even a well-rested driver can fall victim to highway hypnosis. In addition to staying within allotted hours and getting enough sleep, drivers should also make frequent stops to break up the monotony of a long drive. Listening to the radio, maintaining good posture and opening the window for some fresh air can help drivers avoid falling into a hypnotic state.
Drivers may also consider taking alternate routes to avoid spending too much time on highways.
When truck drivers are not fully aware of their surroundings, the consequences can be deadly. Truck drivers should take precautions to stay alert behind the wheel and prevent accidents.