There are a lot of potential dangers on the road for a truckload carrier. There could be a mechanical issue. A fellow motorist could make a mistake that leads to a wreck. Poor weather conditions can make safely operating a vehicle difficult.
But not all potential problems come from outside the truck. Even the most experienced truckload carriers can make mistakes or fall victim to the long hours that are generally associated with the job.
One such potential source of danger is what’s known as highway hypnosis. This altered state of thinking can be very dangerous.
But what exactly is highway hypnosis? And how can you avoid it?
Highway Hypnosis: Defined
Most people on the road are aware of the dangers of falling asleep behind the wheel. It’s a common problem that leads to a lot of accidents. And because it’s so common, people know they need to actively fight against this possibility.
Highway hypnosis, however, isn’t quite as well-known. And because many people aren’t aware of it, they don’t work to avoid it.
Highway hypnosis — also known as white line fever — refers to a state of mind that can be entered while driving down the road. It’s sometimes called a “trance-like” state where you are technically still awake, but you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing.
For example, a person is driving down a long, flat highway. There isn’t a lot of stimulation on the road so the person begins to let their mind wander. And before they know it, they’re more focused on their thoughts than they are the road. Eventually, they notice they’ve gone 20 miles without any recollection of driving that distance.
Truckload carriers will occasionally chalk up this scenario to drowsy driving. It’s not the same as falling asleep but it can feel similar in that you don’t feel like your brain was awake while traveling that unknown distance.
However, highway hypnosis is not the same as driving while drowsy. You are technically awake while experiencing highway hypnosis so it’s much closer to distracted driving than drowsy driving. Reaction time is drastically reduced which can lead to a higher tendency toward accidents when experiencing highway hypnosis.
So now that we understand highway hypnosis and the associated dangers, how can truckload carriers avoid it?
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Avoiding Highway Hypnosis
Better understanding the causes of highway hypnosis will offer suggestions on how to avoid it. Generally, it tends to occur on long, flat, straight roads because the driver isn’t required to constantly navigate various changes. This essentially lulls the driver into a false sense of security. Their mind starts to wander and soon they aren’t paying attention to their driving at all until something snaps them back to reality.
Here are some tips to avoid highway hypnosis.
Focus on Your Health
Get enough sleep. Pay attention to what you eat. Get exercise even when you are on a long trip. Focusing on your health will have a wide range of positive benefits, but it will also keep you in a positive state of mind.
Large meals and a lack of sleep can lead to drowsy driving, but they can also create a scenario in which your mind starts to wander. Keeping your systems firing on all cylinders strengthens your mind and gives you a better chance at maintaining proper control of your faculties.
Shift Your Attention
Find something to occupy yourself while you are driving. Don’t simply stare through the windshield for long stretches of time. The easiest way to do this is continually check all your mirrors.
It might seem unnecessary if you’re on an empty highway that doesn’t make any turns, but it continually engages your mind. This helps keep the trance-like state from clouding your attention.
Take a Break
Being mindful of your state of mind is essential to recognizing when you’re in danger of experiencing highway hypnosis. This will give you a warning and allow you time to realign your thoughts and get back to a safe manner of operation.
Pull over and take a short break when you notice your attention starting to slip. Walk around your truck, do some jumping jacks, or find someone to speak with for a little bit. Anything you can do to engage your mind in a new way will help.
Roll Down Your Window
Pulling over isn’t always an option. Rolling down your window is an easy tactic you can use at almost any time to energize yourself and re-engage your mind.
The blast of cold air (you can also turn your air conditioning on high if the wind outside isn’t cool) will wake you back up. And if you’re on the highway, rolling down your window will also come with a lot of noise. This is another factor to bring your attention back to where it needs to be.
Highway hypnosis can be dangerous, but simply being aware of the issue can be enough to help you avoid it. Truckload carriers can follow these tips to increase the probability of safely returning home after a long trip.