Highway Hypnosis Definition

Have you ever driven somewhere in your car and when you arrived at your destination you can’t recall anything about your journey?

If this has happened to you, then you have most likely fallen into a state of highway hypnosis. This state is also sometimes referred to as White Line Fever and also DWAM (driving without attention mode.)


Why Does Highway Hypnosis Occur?

Highway hypnosis occurs most frequently on long journeys and on journeys that you are very familiar. The same mental state can also be induced when you drive when feeling very tired.

On long journeys, the mind settles into an automated state where the technicalities of driving become a secondary concern. This state allows the thought processes to turn inward and the diver starts to think of other issues other than driving. Thoughts may turn to ideas about what they’ll do when they get home, shopping lists, thoughts about work or any other thoughts at all (other than thoughts about driving the actual car.)

At this stage, the driver is now in a state of distraction rather than highway hypnosis. After a duration of time passes, the state of distraction can develop into full highway hypnosis. This can most likely take place when even the distracting thoughts are no longer being dwelled upon. At this point, the driver is reaching a trance-like state rather than just being distracted by other thoughts.

Long journeys allow more time for the driver to enter into this trance-like state. Similarly, being very tired while driving can also promote the hypnotic feelings because the mind of the driver is already subdued.

Redd Foxx Demond Wilson Graham Jarvis Sanford and Son 1976


What Is The Difference Between Highway Hypnosis and Normal Hypnosis?

Other than the fact that regular hypnosis typically takes place by a trained therapist conducting the hypnosis, there appears to be no other difference. The state of trance obtained during highway hypnosis is, as far as we are aware, identical to therapy-based hypnosis. Some people may also say that a person who quickly falls prey to highway hypnosis would be an excellent candidate for therapeutic hypnosis. Not every person has the same susceptibility to professionally induced hypnosis, but it is highly likely that a driver who frequently succumbs to trances during driving is undoubtedly a good candidate.

What About Road Safety Concerns?



According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving results in more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 1,550 deaths (ABC News)

The figures reported by ABC News indeed tell us that the accident risk increases when highway hypnosis is examined in relation to road safety.

How To Decrease The Risks of Highway Hypnosis

The evidence indicates that tiredness plays a significant role, so avoiding driving while tired will undoubtedly reduce the risk. Long journey’s also increases the risks, but it’s hardly practical to ask people not to make long trips. In both cases, if driving is required then take regular stops where you leave the vehicle and have a short break from the driver’s seat. Allow plenty of fresh air into the vehicle and be aware that highway hypnosis exists. If you aren’t even aware of it, then you have no chance of recognizing it.

Have You Ever Experienced Highway Hypnosis? Comment Below.