Highway hypnosis is a huge problem on the interstates | The Law Offices of Tyler & Peery

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2018 | Fatigued Driving |

When you are on the road, you will likely expect that other drivers will be operating vehicles as safely as possible. This is true of many drivers, but some might be driving unsafely because of factors like fatigue or distractions.

Semitruck drivers on the roads are especially susceptible to fatigue-related issues. One of their concerns is “highway hypnosis.” The term refers to an almost trance-like state drivers experience that can lead to fatal accidents. Here are some facts to know about highway hypnosis:

What is highway hypnosis?

Highway hypnosis occurs when the brain is only partially functioning while the driver operates the vehicle. The danger stems from slower reaction times because reflexes aren’t as sharp as they need to be. When this condition occurs, half of the brain is functioning normally and the other half isn’t functioning at all. That’s why drivers report feeling like they were in a trance right before a highway collision.

The condition is common at night when the headlights from oncoming traffic can contribute to the problem. Highway Hypnosis is also exacerbated by fatigue and drowsiness.

Even when highway hypnosis isn’t a factor in crashes, drowsy driving claims 1,550 lives and contributes to more than 100,000 accidents each year.

How can truckers combat the problem?

All drivers, including truckers, have to make sure that they are well-rested and ready to get behind the wheel. Getting a good night of sleep prior to the trip is essential, as is pulling over when any signs of fatigue sets in.

Talking to someone might also help to prevent highway hypnosis. Truckers can use a hands-free device to make phone calls so they can talk to a friend to try and stay awake until it is safe to pull over.

Another way to prevent highway hypnosis is to keep the vehicle cool. This may lead to physical symptoms, e.g., goosebumps, but the crisp air might help keep the driver awake.

Finally, drivers can crank up some high-energy music to keep them alert and focused. When playing music, motorists should make sure that they can still hear cues from other vehicles.

Was highway hypnosis a factor in your truck accident case?

Semitruckcrashes are serious, and often preventable. If you know or suspect that a trucker was affected by highway hypnosis, subpoenaing his or her work schedule prior to the crash could bolster your case. When truck drivers don’t get enough sleep or have driven too many hours, that information can be used as evidence in a claim for compensation.