Have You Ever Suffered From Highway Hypnosis?
Have you ever been driving someplace, could be close or far, while you're following all of the directions, rules of the road, and everything else...but then you can't recall anything about how you got there? You know you were just driving along, but you've suddenly lost track of a large chunk of time. It might scare you to not remember cities or landmarks that you passed, but it's actually really common.
It happens to a lot of people, and there's a name for the condition.
It's called "highway hypnosis", and the idea has been around almost as long as cars.
The concept dates all the way back to 1921, with an actual study being conducted on the condition in 1929. Walter Miles was the man who published his work "Sleeping With The Eyes Open" where he hypothesized that it was possible for people to actually sleep while driving, but with their eyes open. Their body would keep up with the driving motions, but they would enter a sleep-like trance.
During the 1950s the condition became a scapegoat for various traffic accidents in the United States. But it didn't get the name "highway hypnosis" until 1963 when G.W. Williams came up with the term.
Through the decades, research has continued on the phenomenon, with multiple theories suggesting that the hypnosis of driving can lead to a hypnotic dissociation. This can cause the driver to fall into a different level of consciousness where motor-skills continue to allow the driver to make turns, accelerate, and brake, while the brain enters another state of consciousness. This can lead to partial or total amnesia for the entire, or just a portion, of the drive.