We previously blogged about the unacceptably high rates of drunk driving car crashes in the Lubbock area; but, another contributing factor to car accidents in flat West Texas is “highway hypnosis.” While many people think the most dangerous roads consist of treacherous conditions or busy intersections, remote highways that run through flat, wide open spaces can often lull drivers into a false sense of security, leading them to speed, which can end in disaster.
Drivers traveling across the vast West Texas and Eastern New Mexico landscape on Interstate 27 or Highway 82 may experience drowsiness during the long trip. Drivers try to make the trip straight through, instead of stopping to rest or take breaks. There are currently few studies on how highway hypnosis affects accident rates, as it usually gets grouped into drowsy driving—which according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), causes more than 100,000 crashes each year.
According to DriversEd.com, highway hypnosis “commonly occurs when driving on open highways for an extended period of time. In this condition, the driver operates the vehicle in a dulled, drowsy, trance-like state.” In other words, the brain still operates the vehicle, but the driver “zones out,” causing them to lose their concentration on the task. This can be just as dangerous as drowsy or fatigued driving.
Avoiding Car Accidents on Flat Roads in West Texas
Going into an autopilot-like state often happens on long, boring highway drives with few turns, traffic signals or other distractions. Highway hypnosis remains unrecognized until something jostles the driver from a trance-like state, such as when another car cuts you off or you hit a bump.
The next time you find yourself “zoning out” behind the wheel, make a change immediately. Victims of accidents where highway hypnosis may have been a factor can hold the responsible driver liable.
- Take naps, as fatigue can be a major factor in highway hypnosis
- Take breaks every 90 minutes if you are driving where the scenery is monotonous
- Roll down the window for some fresh air
- Always get at least six hours of sleep the night before
- Turn on the air conditioning/turn down the heat
- Sit up and drive with your head up and your shoulders back.
- Avoid big meals as they can induce drowsiness
- Do not use cruise control; keep your body involved with driving