Do you ever notice that you’ve reached your destination, but you weren’t quite sure how you got there? You may have even traveled hundreds of miles with no memory of it.
In the trucking world, this temporary lapse of consciousness is called “white line fever” or “highway hypnosis.” Long-haul truck drivers are the most prone to highway hypnosis, which poses a huge threat to traffic safety.
Unlike driving while tired, highway hypnosis entails a functional mind in a dissociative state, where a driver is going through the motions of driving without being aware of them.
According to the Defense Safety Oversight Council (DSOC), several factors can contribute to highway hypnosis:
- Complacency: a type of confidence in your driving abilities that makes you less attentive to the details of the road.
- Speed control
- Lone drivers
- Long-distance drivers
- Tired drivers
- Novice drivers
Here are a few things you can do to avoid falling victim to highway hypnosis.
A good night’s rest
Getting enough sleep is crucial to keep you from feeling drowsy on the road.
Avoid night driving
It’s proven to be significantly easier to drive during the daytime since your body has to work extra hard to drive at night; focusing on headlights can cause highway hypnosis.
Warm temperatures can trick your body into a more relaxed state. Keep the temperature cool enough to where you feel comfortable.
Keep your music or podcasts - or whatever you prefer to listen to - at a high enough volume to keep you distracted.
Don’t make the mistake of driving long hours until you need fuel. Sitting in the same position for too long can cause highway hypnosis. Try getting out of your truck to stretch and walk around for a few minutes every hundred miles or so.
Maintain good posture! Keep your legs straight and sit with your head erect on your shoulders.
Engaging in small activities like taking a sip of water can keep you busy enough from falling into a hypnosis state. You can chew gum or enjoy your favorite snacks on the road.
Another way to stitch your focus is by looking at things aside from the center of the highway. A glance at exit signs, billboards, etc from time to time can help keep your mind active.