It has happened to all of us at one point in time: Highway Hypnosis. Maybe it has happened after a particularly long drive, or even just a short jaunt to one of your favorite local RV parks. It’s that eerie feeling that you get after having driven, but don’t necessarily remember how you’ve gotten so far, or suddenly realizing that you are missing your exit, or worse rear-ending a vehicle in front of you who has come to a sudden stop. Highway Hypnosis is described as a condition of drowsiness or unawareness that can be brought on by reduced activity and the steady sounds of wind, engine and tire hum.
I can speak from the experience of making long drives in our motorhome, especially after the semi-stressful packing of our rig, that there comes a point where exhaustion sets in. Staring at the road only seems to increase the inability to focus and before you know it you are literally taking “micro-naps” with your eyes wide open. Needless to say, if you haven’t experienced Highway Hypnosis, it can be a shocking and scary experience. There is a dangerous element of confusion when you “come to” and realize that you don’t really remember driving the last two miles. This is a condition that long range drivers experience frequently.
However, there are a few simple solutions to combat the potentially dangerous situation of falling asleep behind the wheel. First, even if you are feeling OK, take breaks every 100 miles or 2 hours. Get out of your RV or tow vehicle and walk around. This will relax your muscles and get the blood flowing again. Your brain functions much better when you allow your blood to circulate and deliver more oxygen to it.
Also, I know you want to get to your destination, but don’t drive more than 8 hours a day. It’s hard enough to sit behind a desk and work for eight hours, just think about if you were cruising around in multi-ton RV all day starting at the repetitive dividing lines on the road. It’s virtually impossible not to become drowsy.
Another tactic to avoid Highway Hypnosis is to keep shifting your eyes. Avoid starting at the road and instead, look at different objects both left and right, and near and far. Read the road signs as you approach them. This always helps me.
And finally, keep your head on a “swivel” and check your mirrors intermittently. Not only will this help you stay awake, but it keeps you aware of vehicles in your vicinity. One thing to remember is that they also might be experiencing the same dreamy sensation you are which can be dangerous for not just them, but you as well.
Remember, keeping sharp behind the wheel is a responsibility that we all have, especially when we have family and friends riding with us. You can also apply these tactics to your everyday commute as well. So, let’s all be safe out there regardless if you are RVing or just driving home from work. It only takes a split second for catastrophe to strike.