Sunday, February 25, 2024 | Sha'ban 14, 1445 H
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Road trippers, beware of highway hypnosis


You are an avid road tripper and have that driving geek inside you but as the route becomes desolate you are thinking of planning your next day, pondering over prospects or some past chats with people running through your mind.

Hence, all you are witnessing is the repetitive set of scenes on the road, milestones, and the never-ending stretch of the road in front.

Highway Hypnosis is a state of mind when your brain becomes fogged after visualising the same route on and on. This sets your brain into automation mode and decreases the reaction time of the brain; thus, increasing the vulnerability to road accidents. Not every time the culprit is the fatigue, but your brain setting onto autopilot mode on the monotonous roads. As per a study published in Elsevier Journal, “drivers tend to show more fatigue, measured by large steering movements while driving on the more monotonous road.

Also noteworthy was the fact their fatigue peaked after approximately 20 minutes of driving. This suggests highway hypnosis may happen very quickly on monotonous stretches of road, not only after long periods of driving.”

Another finding from Research gate states, “your oculomotor system, or the system that controls eye movements, also plays a part in highway hypnosis.

When you drive along a road you know well or stare at a largely unchanging road for a long time, your brain begins to depend less on retinal feedback, or what you see. Instead, your brain begins to depend more on your mental prediction of what you’ll see (extra-retinal feedback).

In other words, your brain switches to a less-alert mode and begins to pay less attention to visual stimuli.”

How to take care of highway hypnosis?

Get accompanied by a spouse or a friend and stay active in the conversation. Chat on silly stuff; be it sharing your first childhood romance stories or ghost encounters. Trust me, it works. If you cannot find anyone to come with you, talk to yourself, solve some riddles or problems that’s been on your mind for a long.

Take frequent stops to break the monotony of the route. Stretch and walk.

Grabbing on your dose of tea or coffee could help to keep you stimulated.

When sleepy, park on the roadside and catch on a nap. It refreshes and activates your body system.

Take light meals or snacks on the way to prevent post-meal sluggishness.

Try rolling down the window panes or keep the air conditioning low so you won’t feel too comfortable to calm and relax.

Do catch a good amount of sleep before you hit the road.

Hope this helps and you stay safe on the road!

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