Understanding Highway Hypnosis and Ways to Avoid It

At times while having a conversation with closed ones or even a stranger, many of us often feel zoned out. Being at home and feeling such is normal, however, it can turn out to be hazardous if you feel such at the time of driving the car.

Many times, when driving the car, people often feel zoned out, having no recollection of the journey they have undertaken. This can turn out to be risky not only for the driver, but also for the passengers traveling along with. This is known as highway hypnosis which is a trance like phenomenon often faced by the drivers. Read on to know all about highway hypnosis and ways by which you can avoid the same.

What is Highway Hypnosis?

Highway hypnosis refers to a state where you feel zoned out while driving and have no clear memory of any events that take place while traveling. For instance, imagine driving on the road having no traffic and monotonous scenery. Gradually, the driver enters the state of hypnosis, having no recollection of what happened during the same period.

In the state of hypnosis, the driver keeps on driving without having any control over the steering wheel and does not pay any attention to the events that happen around them.

How does highway hypnosis feel like?

Typically, one does not realize the state of hypnosis until one gets out of it. Few of the warning signs are:

  • Dull feeling
  • Sleepiness
  • Slow time to react
  • Wandering thoughts
  • Lack of concentration
  • Mental fogginess

The driver may also abruptly realize after a while about the distance covered. The driver might also feel like moving onto the next lane or drifting into a rumble strip. The co-passenger might also notice a blank expression on the face of the vehicle owner or witness a glassy eyed stare.

Ways to avoid highway hypnosis

Highway hypnosis can be a dangerous situation to be in, often leading to accident or car damage. Having complete control over the driving seat at the time of driving is imperative to ensure no harm is caused to you or the co-passenger traveling along with. Given below are some of the measures on ways by which you can avoid highway hypnosis.

  • Check on the rearview mirrors
  • Avoid alcohol intake
  • Don’t drive continuously
  • To avoid sleepiness, ensure you take good intake of coffee and tea
  • Ensure you get a good sound sleep before you
  • Listen to different kinds of music
  • Avoid overeating
  • Try and cover maximum distance during the day time
  • Avoid driving during the night

Highway Hypnosis Causes

While going to the office or getting back home, your concentration levels are high. You have had a good sleep, have eaten well and are ready to reach your destination on time. You have high music playing in the car and are looking to try a different route due to the traffic. Your brain is flooded with activities and the tasks you need to complete. However, now consider a completely different scenario.

You are away from the city, traveling a highway having minimal or no traffic. The car is moving in a monotonous situation and your active brain tends to switch off. Your brain is not much active and you are zoned out completely, having no control over the situation you are in. After a few minutes, a truck passes away honking. You suddenly become alert hearing the sound and realize that you have ended up taking the wrong route.

In the above first scenario, your brain was active and you were in a conscious state of mind. In the second case, the brain was not communicating well, replicating a sleep-like scenario. In the case of highway hypnosis, you were not sleeping well, but functioning in a state of automaticity i.e. driving without being conscious of it.

Things you need to know about highway hypnosis

Given below are a few things you need to know about highway hypnosis:

  • It is a result of automaticity
  • Driving in a monotonous environment
  • Different from fatigued driving
  • Can be avoided by keeping yourself active, alert and attentive


Highway hypnosis can lead to car accidents as you might take longer to react to any change in your immediate environment. It is best to be in an active state of mind while driving as any unfortunate accident occurring during an unconscious state of mind can lead to severe damage to your car or that of the third party. It is also best to stay prepared with comprehensive car insurance to ensure you are fully protected against third party and own damages.


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