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Highway Hypnosis

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 13/09/2022

Have you ever driven a car and reached your destination without any recollection of the journey? Well, that is because you experienced white-line fever or highway hypnosis.

Highway hypnosis occurs when individuals zone out while driving a vehicle, often travelling a significant distance without recollecting it. Experiencing highway hypnosis can zone out drivers for hundreds of miles or short distances. To explain highway hypnosis meaning in a sentence — it is a condition when a driver experiences hypnotism while driving.

What is highway hypnosis?

Highway hypnosis or driving hypnosis is when the driver zones out while driving a vehicle without remembering what occurred in that specific period. For instance, imagine a person driving on a highway at night with monotonous scenery and no traffic lights. Gradually, the driver glides into a zone of hypnosis.

After a while, the driver reaches out of the hypnosis zone and has travelled a few kilometres but has no memory of what occurred. Simply put, in driving hypnosis, the driver keeps driving, has absolute control over the steering, but pays no attention to anything that happens around them. It is also known as road hypnosis.

What Does Highway Hypnosis Feel Like?

Typically, one might not realise falling into highway hypnosis or road hypnosis, at least not until one gets over it. However, you might notice some warning signs like the following:

  • wandering thoughts
  • dazed or dull feeling
  • frequent blinking or heavy eyelids
  • sleepiness
  • slow reaction time
  • mental fogginess or loss of concentration

In case you abruptly realise that you have no memory of the last eight miles you drove, you probably were under the influence of highway hypnosis. Another sign that indicates experiencing highway hypnosis is noticing yourself drifting into the rumble strip or moving onto the next lane. A co-rider in your car might also see a glassy-eyed stare or a blank expression on your face while driving.

Why Does Highway Hypnosis Happen?

Highway hypnosis is more likely to occur in tired drivers. However, fatigue is not just the cause of it. Take a look at the factors that contribute to the cause of highway hypnosis.

  • Monotonous roads

Existing research shows that redundancy plays a significant role in causing highway hypnosis. A 2003 study on 56 experienced drivers shows that highway hypnosis might occur very fast on monotonous road stretches. It does not require long driving durations to cause highway hypnosis; monotonous roads are just enough.

  • Brain inattention

As per 2004 research, the oculomotor system of the human body, or the system that handles optic movements, also plays a crucial part in highway hypnosis.

While driving and staring at an essentially constant road for elongated periods, your brain starts to depend much less on what it sees or the retinal feedback. The same situation occurs if you are driving on a well-known road. Instead, the oculomotor system starts to rely more on the mental predictions of what the eye sees. Simply put, the brain pays more attention to the visual stimulus and switches to a less-alert mode.

  • Sleepiness

If you are tired while driving, you are more likely to experience highway hypnosis. Monotonous roads can reduce brain alertness, and so can fatigue. In both cases, the brain gets on an autopilot mode, relying more on mental predictability.

Other factors like blurring white lines, monotonous roads, and endless stretches of trees towards the horizon can all combine with drowsiness to push you into a trance state. Therefore you are in a state of sleep even if you do not fall asleep.

Fatigue can get worse if you continue driving. A long driving period can enhance your chances of experiencing highway hypnosis. Moreover, it is more likely that you will fall asleep. If you fall asleep while driving, you can cause unpleasant accidents and harm yourself with every other passenger in your vehicle. You can also cause severe damage to your car. Therefore, it is best to invest in life insurance and insurance for four-wheelers to be on the safe side.

How to Avoid Highway Hypnosis?

It is best to be in complete control while behind the driving seat. While highway hypnosis is not as dangerous as fatigue driving, you must take precautions to bypass it. It is a necessary call for the well-being and protection of all.

With highway hypnosis, your subconscious mind and automaticity might take up and help you track things, but ensure that driving is a conscious mind's job. Listed down are some measures to remain completely functional while driving. And this might be the answer to the question — how to avoid highway hypnosis? Let us take a quick look.

  1. If you are about to drive on a long journey, take a sound sleep before the long road trip.
  2. Intake tea or coffee to avoid sleepiness.
  3. Avoid driving continuously and take breaks once every two hours.
  4. Stay hydrated
  5. Keep a check on the rearview mirrors.
  6. Listen to different kinds of music.
  7. Avoid alcohol
  8. Maintain a fine driving stance throughout the journey
  9. Do not overeat while on the journey
  10. Try covering the maximum distance in the daytime if you are off on a long trip.

Stress on Environmental Changes to Avoid Highway Hypnosis

You can often experience symptoms of highway hypnosis seeping in, and you do not have a chance to stop for a tea or coffee break. When such a scenario steps in, you can make some instant internal adjustments to shake it off for a long time. Let us dive into such internal environmental changes listed below:

1. Switch on some engaging radio talk show or upbeat music - Make sure to put on something that does not make you feel less attentive or sleepy. Avoid slow music, soft soundtracks, or droning voices.

2. Roll down the window - A warm ambience enhances inattentiveness and drowsiness. Therefore roll down the windows and feel the fresh air. The wind in your face can work wonders when it comes to keeping you attentive and active.

3. Keep your seat upright while driving - Slipping into an overly relaxed seat can push you into a tired mode. Keep your seat straight while driving. It would not just help you maintain a good posture but would also help you avoid highway hypnosis.

4. Turn the cruise control off - Monitor your speed to avoid highway hypnosis. By turning the cruise controls to the off mode, you get something more crucial to concentrate on.

5. Try a new road - If you travel long distances on the same monotonous riad, you are highly likely to experience highway hypnosis. The exact route regularly can be a significant factor in causing road hypnosis, exposing you to the likelihood of road accidents. To avoid such a scenario, you can try taking a different route to the same destination.

Highway hypnosis or road hypnosis can cause fatal accidents and one should be mindful while driving. Try to follow the advice to avoid road hypnosis. But what happens if some other driver loses his concentration and bumps into your car? Keeping such scenarios in mind, you should always have a valid insurance for your 4-wheeler. It may not save you from the accident, but can take care of the expenses for repairs.

To buy or renew your car insurance, choose Tata AIG. It is one of the leading insurance providers in India. You can use Tata AIG’s online car insurance calculator to get more clarity on the insurance premium. It can help you choose the right policy cover and save some money.


While, technically, you might be on autopilot driving by the rules, highway hypnosis leaves you in a less alert mode. Under highway hypnosis, you can meet with unfortunate accidents that cause severe damage to your car, you and other passengers. It is common to fall asleep on a boring road or a long journey, even if you are behind the steering wheel, but try not to.

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