Schedule a meeting

Representing Accident & Injury Victims

Handling Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation and
Criminal Defense Cases


Representing Accident & Injury Victims

Handling Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation and Criminal Defense Cases


Highway Hypnosis, Fatigued Driving, and Car Accident Risks

Highway Hypnosis, Fatigued Driving, and Car Accident Risks

When you first hear the term “highway hypnosis,” you may think it is a made-up term from the movies or even a Las Vegas magic show. However, it’s real, and it can be extremely dangerous.

Cases of highway hypnosis occur when a driver has been behind the wheel for a long time, and they go into a trance-like state.

When this happens, the driver’s ability to respond to unexpected situations or hazardous conditions on the road is seriously affected. This increases the risk of an accident.

It doesn’t matter if you spend much time behind the wheel or if you are just an occasional driver; knowing the signs of highway hypnosis is essential. Knowing what to watch for, you can protect yourself and others on the road from harm. This is particularly important for commercial truck drivers who often spend multiple hours driving without a break.

It’s important to note that highway hypnosis is not considered a defense for causing an accident. If you are involved in an accident with a driver who claims this happened, which is why they hit you, they are still considered liable. At this point, you can hire Atlanta car accident lawyers from the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines for help with filing a claim and recovering compensation.

Understanding Highway Hypnosis and Why It Happens

Usually, cases of highway hypnosis occur in drivers who are going long distances. It is common on monotonous, straight roads with few stops or turns with flat scenery. As mentioned above, this condition can affect all drivers, including truck drivers who spend time driving day and night.

While it is common for drivers who are going long distances, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen to others. For example, it can also impact drivers who go down the same roads or routes daily. Drivers who have done this for a while can become “zoned out” or in a trance. The “trance-like” state can last for just a little while or the entire drive.

Highway Hypnosis vs. Fatigued Driving

The descriptions of highway hypnosis and fatigued driving probably sound similar when you read the descriptions. Also, fatigue can cause highway hypnosis. While this is true, this trance-like state usually occurs because of monotony.

There is a fundamental difference between the two – automaticity.

With highway hypnosis, you experience automaticity; however, in fatigued driving, you don’t. This is because your subconscious mind takes over. When you are fatigued, this usually doesn’t happen. This is the main reason that fatigued driving is more dangerous when it comes to accidents.

Cases of fatigued driving result in changes to your reaction time. The changes are usually much more significant than what you experience with highway hypnosis. When you are fatigued, you aren’t as aware of the dangers. The trance you are in with highway hypnosis doesn’t make you lose all awareness; however, this isn’t the case with fatigued driving.

Even though highway hypnosis is dangerous, fatigued driving is more so. It can cause devastating accidents and fatalities. If you feel drowsy, you should avoid getting behind the wheel.

Another risk of highway hypnosis is velocitation. This occurs when you don’t realize how fast you are driving. If this happens, it can cause you to reach unsafe speeds without realizing it. Like cases of highway hypnosis, this is something that is often caused by monotony.

Symptoms of Highway Hypnosis

In many cases of highway hypnosis, drivers don’t even realize it is happening. That’s why it is so important to know the signs of it. Knowing what to watch for will help you avoid driving in this state for extended periods of time.

Some of the most common signs that highway hypnosis has occurred include:

  • Dull or dazed feeling
  • Frequent blinking
  • Wandering thoughts
  • Sleepiness
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Loss of concentration
  • Slow reaction time
  • Mental fogginess

Sometimes, you may realize you have been in this state if you miss your turn or exit. You may also have a hard time remembering the last few miles. In these situations, you had likely succumbed to highway hypnosis.

In other situations, you may drift into the other lane or be “snapped” back to reality because of loud honking noises or when you hit the rumble strips. When you are behind the wheel, someone riding with you may notice a blank expression on your face or even that you have a “glassy-eyed” stare.

How Cases of Highway Hypnosis Can Cause Collisions

If you experience highway hypnosis, it may cause you to lose concentration. One of the main types of distractions is “mental,” which means your mind isn’t on the task. As your brain wanders to other things, you won’t be alert or aware of your surroundings or even the fact that you are traveling 55 miles per hour on the road. As a result, your reaction time is reduced extensively, and the ability to react in time to road hazards, a stopped vehicle or other unexpected situations is diminished.

Consider this scenario. Your mind has wandered due to highway hypnosis, and traffic is at a full stop in front of you. If you are in this trance-like state, you may react slowly or not at all. This can result in you slamming into a stopped car, often at a high rate of speed. In this scenario, the possibility of a multi-vehicle collision is possible.

If there are stop signs or red lights, drivers experiencing cases of highway hypnosis may go through them without realizing it. If this happens, they will likely hit another vehicle. If there’s a hazard on the road, you may run over it, which could cause your vehicle to roll over, crash, or send debris into other cars on the road.

Tips for Avoiding Highway Hypnosis

If you find you are experiencing highway hypnosis, it’s important to take steps to stop it. Some tips that will help you do this include:

Move Your Eyes Constantly

Be sure to keep your eyes moving. This means looking in your rearview or side mirrors from time to time. If you simply stare at the road ahead of you for a long time, you are more likely to experience highway hypnosis. In these situations, you probably won’t realize it is happening.

Take Regular Breaks

This is particularly important if you are driving for long periods of time or if you plan on taking a long trip. Make sure you get out of the vehicle, stretch your legs, and walk around for at least 15 minutes. You can also go for a walk or even take a short nap to “recharge your batteries” before you get on the road again.

Roll the Windows Down

Letting the fresh air in your vehicle will help you remain alert. This is especially important when you are driving at higher speeds than you would on the interstate.

Avoid Driving While You Are Sleepy

While caffeinated beverages and coffee may help increase your level of alertness, they may not be enough to keep you completely awake. It is best to avoid getting behind the wheel if you feel drowsy or sleepy.

Play Upbeat or Loud Music

Now is not the time to play relaxing tunes. You should play the music that will keep you energized and avoid soft and slow songs. Just like you need some inspiration when you work out, upbeat music played at higher volumes can help you stay focused on the road ahead.

Stick to Driving During the Day

Nighttime driving may increase the possibility of highway hypnosis. If possible, avoid driving at night and keep your travels during daylight hours. Your body is used to winding down and getting ready for bed with the sun goes down, which means highway hypnosis is more likely.

Talk to Your Passengers

Talking to someone in the car with you can help your brain remain engaged. If you are driving by yourself, you can call someone (with a hands-free device or through your vehicle) to talk to while you are on the road. This will help you stay alert and focused on what you are doing.

Protecting Your Rights to Compensation After an Atlanta Car Accident

If you are involved in a car accident in Atlanta, you should immediately contact Atlanta car accident lawyers from the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines. We can review the facts of the case and work to gather evidence to show if the at-fault driver was experiencing highway hypnosis or if they were fatigued.

In both situations, the driver can be held liable, and you can receive compensation for your damages and injuries.

The first step is to contact our office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. During this meeting, we can evaluate the situation and help create a plan to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Read More

What They Investigate After an Atlanta Car Accident?

How to Hire the Best Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer?



Client Reviews



Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines
1900 The Exchange SE, Building 500 Atlanta, Georgia 30339 USA

Phone : 770-800-2000


Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines
639 Powder Springs Street, Unit D Marietta, GA 30069

By Appointment Only
Phone : 770-800-2000


Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines
175 John W. Morrow Junior Pkwy Gainesville, GA 30501

By Appointment Only
Phone : 770-800-2000


Law Offices of Matthew C.Hines
5000 Austell-Powder Springs Road, Suite 282 Austell, GA 30106

By Appointment Only
Phone : 770-800-2000

We serve clients throughout Georgia including those in the following localities: Atlanta, Gainesville, Norcross, Marietta, Austell, Alpharetta, Canton, Dallas, Hiram,Lithia Springs, Powder Springs and Gwinnett County.