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Highway Hypnosis: What It Is and How You Can Prevent It?  

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If you are like many drivers, you will agree to one crucial thing. Your attention and concentration on the road play a crucial role in ensuring your safety, that of your passengers, and other road users. Unbeknownst to many, however, it is not uncommon for a driver to experience bouts of reduced attention and lapsed memory behind the wheel. 

They get into the car, drive several miles away, and they don’t have a recollection of what occurred during the journey, including the turns they made, what they saw, and how they got to the destination. This often occurs when driving on the freeway or when the highway is free from traffic and the driver is usually said to be “driving in hypnosis”. Oftentimes these incidents lead to car, truck, and motorcycle accidents. At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, we put our 47 years of experience to work to help clients injured in accidents caused by highway hypnosis and driver negligence.

Unfortunately, highway hypnosis means an increased risk of causing road accidents, some of which can potentially lead to severe injuries and damages if not fatalities. So, what exactly is highway hypnosis, and how can it be prevented? 


  • Describing Highway Hypnosis 
  • Highway Hypnosis Risks: A Common Cause of Road Accidents?
  • The Common Causes of Highway Hypnosis
  • Ways To Avoid Highway Hypnosis
  • What If You Got Involved In A Highway Hypnosis-Related Accident?

Describing Highway Hypnosis  

Sometimes referred to as driving without attention mode or DWAM, highway hypnosis simply refers to a situation where a driver becomes unaware of the surroundings while driving through long distances on a seemingly monotonous road. In simpler terms, it’s when the driver’s brain goes to ‘autopilot’ for a considerable distance when driving on the highway. 

Often considered a mental state, it is usually linked to issues such as fatigue and lack of adequate sleep. But there’s a striking difference between highway hypnotic driving and driving while sleep deprived or fatigued. This is the fact that, in highway hypnosis, your brain is basically fully functional and you don’t feel drowsy. Also, it cannot be compared to daydreaming, and the person will rarely experience illusions. 

Highway Hypnosis Risks: A Common Cause of Road Accidents?  

Needless to reiterate, highway hypnosis increases the chances that the driver could cause dangerous and potentially fatal accidents on the road. This is because when in this trance-like mental state, the reaction time of the driver is usually slower, not forgetting that they might be almost completely driving unconsciously. 

This also means that it is more difficult for the driver to make the right decisions or respond effectively to various scenarios or changes on the road. For instance, they might be sluggish or sloppy when reacting to a merging vehicle, a red light, or a pedestrian crossing the road, and this could result in very serious damages or injuries if not fatalities from the road crash. 

The Common Causes of Highway Hypnosis  

Monotony is one of the most obvious reasons drivers find themselves in a hypnotic state on the highway. Remember, you’re driving over a long distance, probably at night on a road that is free from traffic. Besides being a little fatigued, the brain is probably taking in less visual stimuli, thus operating in a state of automaticity. 

This is often intertwined with driver tiredness, which is actually a common cause of accidents on the roads. It was even mentioned in a 2013 publication on ABC News, which mentioned tiredness as a major cause of drowsy driving and highway hypnosis as far as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is concerned. In a nutshell, below are some common reasons drivers suffer from highway hypnosis apart from the aspect of long-distance driving. 

  • Monotonous visual stimuli on the road – like an endless stretch of trees of blurring white lines 
  • Driving while tired 
  • Sleep deprivation 
  • Distracted Driving 

Ways to Avoid Highway Hypnosis  

At this point, one thing should be clear about highway hypnosis; it robs your consciousness while driving. The trance-like state negatively impacts your attention and decision-making while on the road, meaning that you’re not in full control of the vehicle you’re operating.  

To enhance your safety and that of other road users, a reputed accident attorney would advise taking steps to avoid highway hypnosis in the first place. Here are a few things you can do to reduce the chances of experiencing hypnotic highway driving:  

  • Try to minimize the hours you drive each day  
  • Take breaks, at least every 2 hours when driving  
  • Always get a good night’s sleep the night before a long drive  
  • Try to keep your eyes in motion while driving, checking the side and rear-view mirrors often  
  • Consider taking coffee to keep you alert for long drives  
  • Engage with passengers often, if any  
  • Stay extremely keen on the road signs  
  • Keep the AC on in your vehicle and allow fresh air in  
  • Avoid heavy meals before your drive  
  • Unless you must, avoid driving during your hours of sleep  
  • Switch routes to avoid highway monotony 

What If You Got Involved In A Highway Hypnosis-Related Accident? 

As we’ve already established at this point, car accidents can stem from a wide range of reasons, including distracted driving. Now, highway hypnosis is also a form of distracted driving, even though it may not be as obvious as texting, eating, watching a video, or using the phone while driving. 

It’s also worth mentioning that you could take all the measures to prevent highway hypnosis for yourself while behind the wheel, but it’s never guaranteed that other motorists will do the same. This means that there’s always a significant amount of risk that you could be involved in a highway hypnosis-related accident. 

And as we saw earlier, highway hypnosis is usually to blame for some of the most dangerous accidents on the roads, resulting in grave injuries (if not fatalities) that could cost a fortune to treat. Some of them may result in temporary or even permanent disability, meaning lost wages for the victim, in addition to medical bills, and ongoing treatment costs. 

This is why you should know the steps to take after getting involved in a car crash, whether or not you think the other driver was distracted while behind the wheel. After calling the emergency line and seeking medical help, be sure to contact a reputable car accident lawyer or personal injury attorney from a respected firm.   

If you ever become a victim of highway hypnosis, distracted driving, or any other kind of car accident, The team at Flora Templeton Stewart is always ready to listen to your needs, take your case, and see you get the justice you deserve in a car accident compensation case. 

From vehicle damages to medical bills, after-treatment care costs, and lost earnings, a good injury attorney can help you recover several compensatory damages. You might even recover punitive damages if your case proceeds to trial and your lawyer has hard rock evidence against the defendant in court! 


Highway Hypnosis can happen to any driver, anytime, but it tends to be common at night amongst tired or sleep-deprived individuals covering long distances without frequent breaks. Monotony on the road is also a common cause of this trance-like state of driving. 

The best thing is to know how to prevent it before heating the road and while behind the wheel. And if you ever get into a collision where you sustained injuries and suspect the driver wasn’t attentive on the road, it is your constitutional right to seek compensation with the help of a personal injury attorney. At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, we have our top attorneys help our clients injured in car, motorcycle, and truck accidents caused by inattentive drivers. Call us 24/7 at (888)782-9090 or contact us online for a free consultation, and there is never a fee unless you win.



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Flora Templeton Stuart

Flora Templeton Stuart is the lead attorney and founder of the law firm Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, established in 1976. She is a nationally recognized personal injury lawyer with over 40 years of experience. Her story has been featured on Fox, The New York Times, ABC, Time, and NBC.