Rock Talk

Highway Hypnosis

Last updated on November 5, 2019 at 09:23 am

You arrive at your destination after a long ride. As you pull into the driveway of a friend’s house, you freeze. Something is not right. How did you get here? You remember getting into your car and reaching your destination, but you don’t remember what happened in between. What you’ve just experienced is “highway hypnosis”.

This strange phenomenon occurs when driving on a long stretch of roadway or a familiar road for an extended period of time. The scenery doesn’t often change, making it easier for the driver to enter this state of mind.

It happens to me when driving a familiar road, one that I take daily. I joke that, because I know it so well, I could probably drive it with my eyes closed — or in the case of highway hypnosis, with my mind elsewhere. As I stop at a traffic light, or at some random point in my drive, I oddly snap out of it. It’s a frightening sensation, the “how did I get here?” feeling, and one that keeps me extra focused for the remainder of my trip.

Highway hypnosis is a mental state where one’s mind becomes so relaxed they “zone out” while driving. In this alternative state of mind, the driver continues to respond to external events in the expected manner without consciously doing so.

The mental relaxation that occurs during highway hypnosis can take place off the road as well. It can happen while reading a book or listening to a lecture, for example. You may suddenly find that you can’t remember a word that was said or read.

While occurrences of this mental relaxation can happen in the safe environment of a classroom, highway hypnosis on the road is a dangerous driving hazard that leaves you susceptible to potential dangers. Remember that you’re behind the wheel of a 4,000-pound machine with equally as dangerous hunks of steel zipping all around you. Plymouth Rock Assurance wants you to stay focused and avoid driving while drowsy.


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