Have you tried driving to any of our newly constructed highways lately? The wide expanse and leveled pavement gives that great relief, especially if you are on a long drive. No traffic, no hassle. Not to mention the significant time that it slashes off from travelling. And for the speed junkies, they can rev up their car and feel the rush going for the maximum allowable speed.

The last ten years have been a breakthrough for the Department of Public and Highways. The government’s Build, Build, Build project resulted in nine major highway constructions [https://www.moneymax.ph/government-services/articles/build-build-build-philippines] aimed at easing the metro traffic. And those who tried driving on any of these highways can surely attest to the positives. However, the driving public must be reminded of the dangers in using some of these horizontals.

Road accidents result from the vehicle’s poor condition, bad roads, weather but mostly human errors, stressing further how vital road safety is especially for the driving community. And with all the construction of these broad, monotonous highways, another danger is posed for the man behind the wheels.

Have you heard of highway hypnosis? Nope, it’s not one of those boobtube stuffs that show a person steadily staring at a swinging object for a period of time. Though it has something to do with staring, other factors are involved before falling under the road spell.

Experts define it as:
“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.”

Highway hypnosis or white line fever may sound new to most local drivers, but this has been a long-existing risk.

According to Wikipedia, “the concept was first described in a 1921 article that mentioned the phenomenon of “road hypnotism”

Though there is no available data as to whether this condition has been a cause for any road mishaps, we have heard of accounts of drivers falling asleep. The question is, ‘Did the driver really dozed off while driving?’ Noteworthy are the contributing factors that resulted in the accident such as the length of the driving time the road being traversed, and the driver’s mental state.

Quoting from a source, [https://www.healthline.com/health/highway-hypnosis] the following are warning signs that you are experiencing highway hypnosis:

  1. sleepiness
  2. ​loss of concentration or
  3. mental fogginess
  4. wandering thoughts
  5. ​a dull or dazed feeling
  6. slow reaction time
  7. ​heavy eyelids or frequent
  8. blinking

To be on the safe side, we must know how to overcome highway hypnosis, and these tips from healthline.com may help:

Take a break

The longer you spend on a monotonous task, the more likely your brain will switch to autopilot mode.

If you zone out over some documents at work, the worst that will happen is that you’ll have to read them again. When this happens on the road, you put yourself and any nearby drivers at risk.

When planning a driving trip, make sure you allow enough time to stop every hour or two. Get out of your car and move around as much as possible. Go for a brisk walk, or run in place.

If you feel tired but need to keep driving, a short nap can help you recharge.

Have some caffeine

If you feel sleepy while driving, caffeine can help boost alertness, but it might not be enough to keep you awake entirely.

Even if you don’t feel sleepy, taking sips of a drink or having a snack can help break up the monotony of driving. Just make sure it’s not something too distracting or difficult to eat.

Talk or sing

Talking to someone can help keep your brain engaged. If you can’t safely use a hands-free device to call a friend while driving, get off the road as soon as you can, and then connect the call.

If you know you have to drive for a long time, try making plans with a loved one ahead of time so you can make sure they’re available for a call.

It’s also totally fine to talk to yourself.

Remember those poems and dramatic monologues you had to memorize during high school English? Trying to dredge those up from the depths of your memory can give you something to concentrate on.

You can also try solving a math problem out loud, singing your favorite songs from memory, or talking through a problem that’s been on your mind.

Make some environmental changes

When you feel highway hypnosis coming on but don’t have a chance to stop for a while, these quick internal adjustments can help you shake it off:

Put on loud, upbeat music or engaging talk radio. Avoid anything that could make you feel sleepy or less attentive, such as soft, slow music or droning voices.
Roll down the window. A warmer environment can increase drowsiness and inattention, so roll your windows down, or turn on the air conditioning. If you’re driving at a high speed, the wind in your face can help keep you feeling sharp.

Drive with an upright seat. Putting your seat up straight before you leave can help you maintain good posture while driving, making it less likely you’ll slip hinto an overly relaxed state.

To prevent highway hypnosis, the same source suggests the following:

Try other routes

As said, the monotony of the road contributes greatly to highway hypnosis. Ttrying a new routeroad will surely prevent that from happening.

Eat lightly

Most people become less alert and drowsy after a meal, so light food intake is ideal.

Create a song playlist

Get hyped by playing your favorite songs. You can even turn the volume a bit and sing with it.

Get enough sleep before driving

Nobody could discount a well-rested mind and body before a long drive.

Ultimately, the goal is to reach your destination safely and to be back with your loved ones. Remember, we’re just travelers down these roads, and home is where we must be.

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