Highway Hypnosis – How Truckers Can Avoid White Line Fever
Have you heard about Highway Hypnosis, also known as White Line Fever? Ever pulled into your driveway and had the sudden startling realization that you have no recollection whatsoever of the drive home, just a missing gap in your memory for the route you took, the turns you made, the stops at stop signs, yielding to other cars when appropriate, and attending to all your other responsibilities while operating a motor vehicle?
You marvel that you were simply on auto-pilot the whole time and somehow made it home while your conscious thoughts drifted to other things on your mind. While you may have made it home safe and sound, a fascinating proof that many driving tasks are simple and automatic, this kind of “hypnotized” driving is not as safe as alert, defensive driving.
Highway Hypnosis (White Line Fever)
If everything goes smoothly you can successfully operate a motor vehicle in a state of “white line fever” as highway hypnosis is sometimes called, but at a critical moment when fast reflexes and quick thinking are needed to prevent a highway accident, daydreaming while you’re driving can have deadly consequences.
This is especially important for long-distance commercial truck drivers who are most at risk for highway hypnosis because of the long hours they spend on the road, and for whom the risk of a traffic accident is much more costly because of the sheer size and weight of the semi-truck and the trailer it’s pulling. The economic and human toll of an accident caused by distracted or “spaced out” driving is too high not to take adequate preventative measures.
Watch for the Signs
Signs you’re experiencing this dangerous lull as you’re driving include that sudden realization that you cannot recall the specifics of the last few moments of driving, any near misses of other vehicles or roadway obstacles, any drifting over highway lines or rumble strips, or if you suddenly notice you’re experiencing muscle stiffness or soreness, which could indicate you’re not adjusting in your seat enough due to spacing out.
What You Can Do
If you experience any of these signs, it is advisable to stop and take a short rest. A small nap if you’re tired or a short walk if you need to stretch your muscles and shake off the monotony of the highway a bit. You can also get a bite to eat or something to drink if you’re hungry.
When you resume driving, be sure to take measures to avoid spacing out. Switch your radio on, find a station you like, and turn the volume up. Stick to music with a lively beat to keep you awake. Be sure and turn the temperature down and make sure the air is blowing on your face. That should keep you awake and alert. Allowing yourself to get too warm in the driver’s seat can lead to drowsiness and spacing out.
One of the most important ways to avoid highway hypnosis is consciously making an effort to engage in alert, defensive driving. Keep your eyes moving. Be aware of all the vehicles around you on the road and any possible road hazards. Glance quickly back and forth between mirrors and the road ahead. Take mental note of the road signs and keep your eye on the weather conditions outside.
Most of all be sure you’re taking deep breaths and expanding your entire chest as you inhale so that you’re getting enough oxygen to stay awake and alert. Do this all the time throughout your day, not just when you’re driving. Additional tips can be found here.