Social Question

GloPro's avatar

Have you ever driven on autopilot?

Asked by GloPro (8243 points ) June 3rd, 2014 from iPhone

I don’t mean cruise control. I mean driving while your mind is completely on something else. You snap out of it and realize you’re there. Or maybe you meant to drive to the store and you wound up at work or at your kids school. You don’t remember a lick of the drive.

Has this ever happened to you?

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23 Answers

hearkat's avatar

Sure. It hasn’t happened recently, but in my more stressed-out years, it happened pretty often. I’ve always had long commutes~40–50 miles each way, so with that much time in the car, I do a lot of thinking.

zenvelo's avatar

Numerous times. When I was in college I used to make the trip between San Francisco and Santa Barbara pretty much on auto pilot. And quite often on the commute home from work I would too.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Yes, a lot. Sometimes I don’t even remember why I am going at all. Sometimes I do remember where to go but it takes me more time than usual to get there (it always feels like I’m traveling around the city).

It happens when I’m over-excited or thinking about something too much.

I remember one hilarious moment: my mom asked me to buy something. At that time I was over-excited and I went around and around thinking only of my excitement. When I got back home, I was confused for a while when mom asked: “Where are my things?”. “What things?” I asked. It was only when I found my money in the pocket that I remembered.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

When I was younger and just getting started in the trucking industry I would be on the road for twenty to thirty hours straight (NOT LEGAL) but in those days we were pushed hard,and always threatened that if you don’t we will find someone who will type thing, never went to the wrong place but there would be large gaps in the trip I wouldn’t remember ,I don’t do that in todays world, so remember that next time you see a truck maybe he/she has been at it for an extreme long time, we all have used auto pilot from time to time ,and it isn’t a safe way to get there at all.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, infact, not long ago I was lost in thought and missed my exit by about 10 miles on the freeway. Oops! lol I try to remind myself to stay present when driving, it is easy to drift away in familiar territory especially.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, I have. It’s not good.

jerv's avatar

Most of the time. The routes I drive, I pretty much just worry about collision avoidance and road conditions while leaving higher functions like where I’m going on autopilot. After a few hundred times along the same path, it’s hard not to.

Seek's avatar

I did a lot when I was younger and had a long commute. After a few close-calls at the wheel (none of them my fault, but they were some scary near-misses) I’m way too paranoid to allow that to happen anymore.

I try to avoid driving whenever possible.

fluthernutter's avatar

Yes, I attended university for way too long. It’s been years since I graduated, but I still end up by campus if I don’t pay attention to where I’m supposed to go.

Walking on autopilot, I would often find myself haunting places that witnessed lots of personal heart ache. To places that I didn’t even realize that I still thought about.

Apparently, I’ve got melancholy feet.

GloPro's avatar

Melancholy feet. That’s very poetic.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Absolutely never, well there’s one exception:

I use the interactive activity of driving to clear my head.

I savor every sound, every little creak from the Teflon impregnated urethane bushings, every sensation from the power delete steering rack, the ridiculously stiff tires, the audible snap from the shifter. The deleted sound deadening material. The bare metal and exposed wiring in the rear hatch.

The minimalist Polk Audio system is rarely on.

There’s always something that should be looked out for. Driving is one decision right after another. Am I going to shift down or remain in third? That depends on what I see going on multiple cars ahead of me.

Why am I still in third and not fourth? Because the longer I wait to shift the more information I collect as to what is the appropriate selection. Oh, and the SOUND.

Why don’t I smoke in my car? Don’t want the smell? No, Don’t want burn marks on the A pillar cover? No.

Because it would be redundant and wasteful. I’ll take the sensation of driving over that offered by smoking any day of the week.

The exception: Autopilot? No, rather in the zone on highway trips. “The Narcotic Suite” by the Prodigy is playing, loud. Caffeine working it’s alkaloid magic between my synapses…

Scan ahead, check the dials, check mirrors, signal, drop ratios, pass, check mirrors, shift back to right, repeat. Second nature.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Sure/ It’s scarey to arrive somewhere and not remember the drive.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

^ This is why I drove on the whacky weed only once and will NEVER do it again.

Blackberry's avatar

Yeah, then I get pulled over for speeding.

JLeslie's avatar

You are in a hypnotic state during those autopilot times, sometimes called highway hypnosis. Most people have experienced it. It’s easier for your mind to do it on long straight monotonous roads, or places where there is very little traffic. It can happen in busy traffic too though. Also, routes you take regularly people sometimes zone out, because the familiarity makes that drive need less concentration, or the feeling of needing less concentration. When you need to look for an exit or a road name in a location you have never been to before you are unlikely to go into this state. Same if you need to change lanes a lot and dodge traffic. The more awareness you need for the road the less your mind can wonder.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Everyday during rush hour, back when I did rush hour. Then I bought a convertible and, surprisingly, it made that drive home almost a pleasure. And I was actually awake at the wheel.

Pachy's avatar

Yes, and it has scared the s**t out of me on more than one occasion. Usually it’s because I’m overly tired or fretting about something, or on long driving trips when I’m bored. The most benign result is missing an exit, and the worst is suddenly finding that I have drifted into another lane and almost hitting another car.

Coloma's avatar

I had a hypnotherapist equate driving subconsciously with hypnotherapy and I agree. The subconscious mind is totally aware, even if we do not always, consciously, pay attention. I am not advocating driving in an unconscious manner, just saying that our subconscious mind IS capable of going into autopilot mode without as much danger as one might think there is.

cookieman's avatar

Absolutely. Many times I have arrived at my destination with no memory of how I got there.

More scary however, are the few times I’ve gotten lost in the “auto pilot” state, then “woken up” and panicked. Where the hell am I?!

I’ve had to use the GPS on my phone to figure out where I am.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

@JLeslie Highway Hypnosis happens when people do not drive with the understanding that the activity involves the constant process of observation and reaction.

JLeslie's avatar

@SecondHandStoke I would assume there is a lot of factors. Being distracted, being tired, being very familar with the route and spacing out, and also as I said long straight monotonous roads. Even people who understand, and take seriously, how important attention is to the road, even they sometimes experience highway hypnosis. I do agree being aware of it and keeping yourself focused on the driving can help avoid it.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

^ I paid for the road with my taxes and intend to experience every inch of it on my journey.

JLeslie's avatar

@SecondHandStoke I know you are half joking, but I don’t really “get” the comment.

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