Updated: Jul 28
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What's worse than a missed appraisal, a misunderstood emoji or a habitual snorer?
What is the one thing that has happened to each and every one of us bikers while on a 1000+km trip?
Ever felt like you're on your motorcycle, but can't make sense of what's happening around you? You keep riding on but you don't react as instantly to threats such as errant tankers, over-enthusiastic scooterists and the wreckless rickshaw driver cutting into your lane? That, friends is a deadly situation called road hypnosis. Anyone who has experienced it will feel a chill down the spine because highway hypnosis is a very, very real killer.
Road hypnosis, also known as highway hypnosis or white line fever, refers to a trance-like state or a temporary loss of awareness that can occur when driving for extended periods on monotonous, long stretches of roads, such as highways or freeways.
It is characterized by a lack of attention to the driving task, decreased awareness of one's surroundings, and a sense of time distortion.
It's when your eyes get fixated at one point ahead of you and your brain shuts off peripheral vision.
The term "road hypnosis" is used to describe the phenomenon because it shares similarities with the hypnotic state. When driving on a monotonous road with minimal changes in scenery or stimulation, the repetitive nature of the environment can lead to a decrease in arousal levels and mental engagement.
As a result, the rider's attention may drift, leading to a reduced perception of the road and potential hazards.
Road hypnosis can be dangerous as it impairs a rider's ability to respond quickly to unexpected events or hazards. It increases the risk of accidents, particularly if the rider completely loses consciousness or falls asleep (also called jhapki lena) . Fatigue, sleep deprivation, and long periods of motoring without breaks are common contributing factors to road hypnosis.
Here are some symptoms of road hypnosis
Increased reaction time
Lack of concentration
Unnatural euphoria or melancholy
In this state, the driver's conscious mind is apparently fully focused elsewhere, while seemingly still processing the information needed to drive safely. It's the closest you can get to sleeping with your eyes open.
To prevent road hypnosis and maintain alertness while motorcycle touring, it is essential to follow some safety guidelines.
Here's what you can do to avoid highway hypnosis
Take regular breaks: Plan your journey with scheduled rest stops every two hours. Use these breaks to stretch, walk around, and refresh yourself.
Stay well-rested: Get enough sleep before embarking on a long ride. Fatigue can significantly increase the likelihood of road hypnosis.
Avoid monotony: Listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, and engage in conversation via helmet intercom with fellow riders to keep your mind active.
Stay hydrated and avoid heavy meals: Dehydration and consuming heavy meals can contribute to drowsiness. Drink plenty of water and opt for light, healthy snacks during the journey.
Use visual stimuli: Use your peripheral vision by occasionally shifting your gaze and focusing on objects in the distance. This can help break the monotony and maintain alertness. Move your field of view from the right side to the left every 10-15 seconds so you have a very clear picture of what's happening around you.
Practice defensive driving: Always be aware of other vehicles on the road and maintain a safe distance. Anticipate potential hazards and stay focused on the task at hand.
Remember, road hypnosis can affect anyone, regardless of riding experience. By staying alert, taking breaks, and practicing safe driving habits, you can reduce the risk of road hypnosis and ensure a safer journey.
About the author
Hi, I am Adreesh Ghoshal. I love Manna Dey, Mutton Keema, and Motorcycles equally. Sometimes, it's hard to choose. Follow here.