Highway hypnosis refers to a condition of lowered state of alertness you experience in assessing the road situation. Theoretical research suggests highway hypnosis is not amenable to an easy definition because of its being considered as a complex syndrome of changes in the human ability to perform several psychological functions at the same time which require specific eye movements but in reality at least professional drivers are aware of the danger it poses on them because of their susceptibility to get involved in accidents and the subsequent adverse consequences it brings both on those affected as well as the burden it imposes on the public administration. For this reason it has assumed a central position in the analysis of accidents and their preventions.
There are a number of experiments that go towards explaining highway hypnosis in a scientific perspective. Such experiments in particular have focused themselves on the ability of the drivers to react quickly to visual signals, use prior warning information that would help in the speeding up of such reactions, to recall information presented earlier and sustain alertness as indicated in the alpha activity in EEG investigations. In the process, these experiments explain how highway hypnosis develops and the need to train the drivers to make specific eye movements which the complex nature of driving demands as looking at several aspects pertaining to their visual surroundings which are reckoned to move in a predictable pattern.
From what we have discussed above it is the prevention and the management of highway hypnosis that acquires importance and we would devote the rest part of the article firstly to the underlying causes, the peculiar feature(s) of highway hypnosis and subsequently to the various methods and means to see as to how they could be handled.
Psychiatry offers a variety of perspectives to the way people behave, think and act which physicians may not be able to conceptualize while treating their patients for some of the diseases which have deep-rooted causes that can be related to the behavioral traits of the human beings which are not amenable to physical treatment alone. For example, at a common level if a person is suffering from recurring headaches physically it is only a symptom of a nagging pain on some part(s) of the head but there could be a number of underlying causes that could be responsible for such a headache. For instance, it could be due to sleep deprivation, anxiety or any other disease which is deeper in nature. Yet another dimension offered by the experts relates to a state of consciousness in a different manner than what we as common people perceive. Psychiatrists and hypnotherapists see it as a differentiated psychological functioning during which time the individual deviates from normal alertness and such differences as already pointed out have been proved through electroencephalogram (EEG) investigations. Yet another type of state of mind is seen in dreaming during which time the state of consciousness of the subjects are characterized by a low voltage and relatively fast mixed frequency pattern coupled with a tonic inhibitory influence on the motor output. Under such a situation, the focus of attention of psychiatrists and hypnotherapists is on the psychopathic functioning of the individuals. Each of these specialties deal with such underlying causes as sleepiness, anxiety and the consequences arising out of it in the form of road rage, distractions, fatigue, falling asleep while on the wheels etc in its own ways. For instance, psychiatry deals it with a combination of medicine and counseling whereas in hypnotherapy it is totally drug free and to that extent claims superiority over psychiatry because it reduces the scope for adverse effects which such medicines produce which at times worse than the remedy and becomes self-defeating. In short, highway hypnosis is something which catches those on the wheels most of the times without their knowledge. Many of you would experienced this from a phenomenon you have undergone from time to time in you would have realized on reaching the destination that you have really not felt you were driving your car. Stated otherwise, it would have been such a mechanical operation but the important point to note is that it is not really mechanical. Your conscious mind was thinking of so many other problems that have been bothering you while with the help of unconscious mind the operation of which you would not know you have driven the car to reach the destination. This would also explain the reason on many times you would have simply forgotten to pick up something which your wife, children or any other family members would have asked for. This would be all the more so in the case of those who happen to drive a route again and again because that is the peculiar feature of highway hypnosis and this explains the reason for your forgetfulness. Highway hypnosis could also be distinguished from any other form of driving, say, your driving when you are drowsy because when you are under highway hypnosis, you react quickly by ramming the brakes instantly if you are confronted with an emergency situation. This is because you are alert at a subconscious level as distinguished from a conscious state of mind.
Road rage plays a major role in today’s highway hypnosis phenomenon. Why is it so? Because, in road rage, it is not the lack of control of the vehicle one drives but the control of the emotion of the person who sits behind the vehicle. If you think that road rage is more common among the males than females, think again. Women drives also exhibit it but the males are blamed because the external manifestation is seen in them in a much more overt manner than women. Experts believe that road rage is an acquired phenomenon. It is taught unconsciously by the father to the son, the mother to the daughter because when they sit adjacent to you they have seen your road raging skills coming into the open every now and then and when they start driving they tend to believe that they should also follow you in letter and spirit. Road rage then gets passed from one generation to another. Road rage then is not a disease but an attitude. Hypnotherapy can help you to modify your attitude from worse to the better. It does not need laboratory tests, prolonged medications; just a few hypnotic sessions and lessons learnt from a qualified hypnotist would do the trick of making you a better driver and by that you would be doing lots of good to yourself, your health, family, friends and fellow drivers.
Like all the persons are not alike, the weather conditions are not unique everywhere. In the USA, you have extremes of climate and you need to learn the art of driving in bad and extreme weather. The type of the vehicle, your prior experience in driving in hostile weather conditions and your reflexes all matter in avoiding highway hypnosis. Weather would not become better because it is an inanimate object but being a human being vested with six senses, you can be a better person to understand different types of weather and tune up your driving skills.
It may not be possible for everyone to follow this suggestion, but subject to feasibility you can avoid night travel because research in this area has ample evidence to prove the glare of lights outside and from within the dashboard in the car increases the scope for highway hypnosis.
Remember the driver seat is not the place for you to engage into activities that are not connected with driving. There is bound to be lots of distractions on the road, animate and inanimate, beautiful and ugly and if you allow yourself to be distracted by such things the chances are that you would quickly drift into highway hypnosis without your knowledge and when you realize the consequences it may be too late.
If you are fatigued, keep away from the driver’s seat because fatigue affects your efficiency in all respects and is the easy target for your slipping in to highway hypnosis.
It is time for us to conclude. We have explained what highway hypnosis is, how it can be overcome by your efforts with the seeking of the help of hypnotherapists and the reason why we say so is that hypnotherapy when learnt from qualified personnel changes your physical, mental and emotional conditions from a not so positive to a positive framework wherein the scope for accidents, fatalities, causalities and the pain associated with the consequences they bring in all could be mitigated if not totally avoided.