Question Falling in a state of passive mind

Bugs

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Hi everybody, I have got some bad experiences with riding on the highway and was wondering if there were more people who have had this. This has nothing to do with bad experiences with the motorcycle but with my mental state while driving.

It now has occurred multiple times that I was driving on the highway for not that long of a time (yesterday it occurred after about 10 minutes) where my mind is in a different state. Normally when I drive I am pretty active, checking my speed, mirrors, other drivers on the road, what they are doing, scenery, birds that are flying. You name it and I am actively processing it. However it occurred now multiple times that after some time on the highway my mind gets blank and my reaction time plummets, it is hard to concentrate on what I am doing (100km/h on a highway). I notice that making physical movements (like throttling down, braking, changing lanes) is still possible, however not at the speed that I am used to. I usually stop at the nearest gas station to take a break (eventhough it's like I have said, me only driving for 10 minutes) and then continue my way.

The first time that I noticed this happening was in 2019 on my way back from a 4000km trip around the Baltic Sea. And since then it has occured every once in a while (only on the highway, never on the backroads). It's a bit frighting to experience and was wondering if there were more people who have somewhat of the same experience and how they deal with this.

Some background information: Currently 31 years old, I am driving motorcycle since I was 22 in all different kinds of seasons/weather.
 

mzflorida

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I am not an expert on this by any means, but I have completed countless hours of driving training for dignitary protection (retired cop). With that caveat, it does sound like highway hypnosis, and every human is susceptible to it. Today there are devices that can prevent it but none of us would buy them. Believe it or not, there is some evidence that sunglasses may prevent the onset of HH. Though HH is complex, some of my trainers told me that it begins with the oculomotor (eye muscle) functions. Sunglasses somehow reduce the onset in some persons. Adding elements that make you less than comfortable is also a strategy. For instance in a car you can put a small object under your thigh to create just enough awareness but not discomfort. Think about it. If you have ever driven a car or ridden a motorcycle that had uncomfortable seating, did you ever lose recollection of the last 20 miles? You can achieve that same effect by adjusting a seat in a car so that you are still capable of operation but not terribly comfortable. So this is really geeky and the same caveat in my intro stands...i was instructed on this and am not an expert. The thalamus is what keeps us attentive when driving. If HH kicks in activity in the thalamus slows and activity moves to the prefrontal cortex and that is supposed to be bad for tactical environmental awareness. Google Scholar had studies on this available for full download.
 

Griff

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I ride my motorcycle briskly most of the time. Where there is a risk of getting caught I stick fairly rigidly to speed limits. Where that risk is low I then ride at a pace that I am comfortable with and that is generally somewhat above the local speed limits. This is not any form of bravado on my part, but more that when travelling at my preferred speed I am fully alert and concentrating on the road. As soon as I slow down for any length of time I tend to find my mind wandering and that is not good. Perhaps there is a similarity to what You are experiencing ?
 

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It is passable getting HH in a car but really tricky on a bike.
Most of my bikes allow me to move forward/back up/down.
I tell my riding buddies that I may look squirrle-ly but it keeps
me physically and mentally alert.
 

mzflorida

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I ride my motorcycle briskly most of the time. Where there is a risk of getting caught I stick fairly rigidly to speed limits. Where that risk is low I then ride at a pace that I am comfortable with and that is generally somewhat above the local speed limits. This is not any form of bravado on my part, but more that when travelling at my preferred speed I am fully alert and concentrating on the road. As soon as I slow down for any length of time I tend to find my mind wandering and that is not good. Perhaps there is a similarity to what You are experiencing ?
Great point.
 

mzflorida

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It is passable getting HH in a car but really tricky on a bike.
Most of my bikes allow me to move forward/back up/down.
I tell my riding buddies that I may look squirrle-ly but it keeps
me physically and mentally alert.
Not sure that I agree that it is trickier on a bike than in a car. But, I agree that your strategy of fidgeting around might reduce its onset. Not being contrary to be rude by any means.
 

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I ride my motorcycle briskly most of the time. Where there is a risk of getting caught I stick fairly rigidly to speed limits. Where that risk is low I then ride at a pace that I am comfortable with and that is generally somewhat above the local speed limits. This is not any form of bravado on my part, but more that when travelling at my preferred speed I am fully alert and concentrating on the road. As soon as I slow down for any length of time I tend to find my mind wandering and that is not good. Perhaps there is a similarity to what You are experiencing ?
Riding somewhat above the speed limit is certainly something that I also do, with respect of the speedlimit that is though. The problem with that now in The Netherlands is that for all my life I have had a speedlimit of 120km per hour. So I usually drove 130km/h which with correction would bring me down at around 121-123 km/h which can be explained to the police IF you would get pulled over. However last year the speed limit here has been decreased to 100km/h and driving 130km/h or faster where people expect 100km/h is in my opinion not right.

That being said, this all could have been triggered during my trip around the Baltic sea in 2019 I drove to Poland, where a large chunk of the highway speed is 150km/h. So I drove about 160km/h (and was being passed by ALLOT of Polish people who where doing more than that:p). Same goes for Germany, lots of chunks driving around 140/150km/h where it was allowed.

For now I have found the following paper on Google Scholar which I am reading, but did not have the time to read fully "Wertheim’s hypothesis on ‘highway hypnosis’: empirical evidence from a study on motorway and conventional road driving - Gemma Pastor Cerezuela Et. al". Have ordered some brisky summer gloves since I now only ride with 4 seasons full leather gloves which are way to hot during the summer. And I am going to experiment with different ear plugs. I now use molded ear plugs which fit perfectly but maybe too perfectly.
 
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MZ5

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...last year the speed limit here has been decreased to 100km/h and driving 130km/h or faster where people expect 100km/h is in my opinion not right.

I salute you for recognizing that the _difference_ in speed between the various vehicles in traffic causes FAR more problems than what the traffic speed is. Many do not seem to recognize or acknowledge that fact.
 

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When it happens are you getting “too comfy” (warm day, warm clothing, slow ride?). You may find yourself overheating a bit and that can cause a lack of attention and general fuzziness. Cold water, open vents will help. As noted, make yourself a bit “uncomfortable” and that can make a real difference, Whatever you do, do NOT continue riding when you feel that way-stop, get a hot coffee or cold Coke, walk around a bit, and get yourself “right” before continuing your ride. You just might save your life.
 

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I salute you for recognizing that the _difference_ in speed between the various vehicles in traffic causes FAR more problems than what the traffic speed is. Many do not seem to recognize or acknowledge that fact.
Everyone driving 100km/h is safer than everyone driving 130km/h, but some people driving 100km/h while others are driving 130km/h is WAY worse.
IE, lower speed limits are only safer if the vast majority (I seem to recall something like 80% or more) of drivers follow them. Going with traffic flow is safer, even if the speed is much faster (or slower!!) than the limit.
 

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Everyone driving 100km/h is safer than everyone driving 130km/h, but some people driving 100km/h while others are driving 130km/h is WAY worse.
IE, lower speed limits are only safer if the vast majority (I seem to recall something like 80% or more) of drivers follow them. Going with traffic flow is safer, even if the speed is much faster (or slower!!) than the limit.
I drive and ride at a slightly different speed than the majority of drivers as I observe it keeps me from being trapped in “packs”. People tend to group up and drive in clusters. If I stay out of the clusters, I am surrounded with more space which gives me time to react and more escape routes. Of course, if a highway is crowded with traffic at or beyond it’s capacity, this can’t work and in that case I am leaving that highway anyhow.
 
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TheIronWarrior

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I drive and ride at a slightly different speed than the majority of drivers as I observe it keeps me from being trapped in “packs”. People tend to group up and drive in clusters. If I stay out of the clusters, I am surrounded with more space which gives me time to react and more escape routes. Of course, if a highway is crowded with traffic at or beyond it’s capacity, this can’t work and in that case I am leaving that highway anyhow.
Of course, these are generalizations I'm making. Ideally, everyone is adequately spaced out and traveling the exact same speed. This way, there's no clumps to get trapped in. In practice, it's often better to add a little juice to avoid congestion.
It's the "slightly" part that's key. You go a few km/h faster to get out of a pack, that's probably a safer option. You hammer on and go 50km/h faster, you're likely the unsafe one.
 
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