The frequent occurrence of highway hypnosis, a lowered state of alertness leading to the development of drowsiness and failure to react adequately to changes in the road situation, is a danger well recognized among professional drivers. Current theories concerning highway hypnosis do not satisfactorily explain its nature or its origins and are very difficult, if not impossible, to validate in experimental research. In this paper a theory is presented which explains highway hypnosis as a complex syndrome of changes in the human ability to perform several psychological functions. These changes result from the need to perform specific eye movements. This theory has been validated in the experimental research presented in this paper. The functions investigated concerned the ability to react quickly to visual signals, to use prior warning information in order to speed up such reactions, to detect movements in our visual surroundings, to recall information presented earlier and to maintain alertness (as indicated by alpha activity in the eeg). The experimental findings appear to explain many of phenomena of highway hypnosis. They are in line with the theory that highway hypnosis develops with the need to make those specific eye movements which are required when we have to look at aspects of our visual surroundings which move (relative to the observer) in a very predictable pattern. Some suggestions for further research and some practical measures, which may be helpful in reducing the dangers of highway hypnosis, are proposed. /Author/TRRL/

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  • Corporate Authors:

    Pergamon Press, Incorporated

    Maxwell House, Fairview Park
    Elmsford, NY  United States  10523
  • Authors:
  • Publication Date: 1978-6

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00184499
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL)
  • Files: ITRD, TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 3 1979 12:00AM