Thats right, when driving conditions are "routine" most drivers are not fully conscious of driving their vehicles. Their subconscious perception is doing most of the driving for them.
You've done it yourself many times... Remember all those times you arrived at your destination but didn't remember the trip? When people drive while talking on their cell phone they are relying a bit too heavily on subconscious perception... But the fact that there are not more accidents due to this behavior is a testament to subconscious perception.
Yes, even those huge 18 wheelers are being driven by someone in a naturalistic hypnotic trance...some deeper than others...the more routine, the deeper the trance. Pretty scary when you think about it!
But relax - this is as it should be...
There would be a lot more accidents if the conscious mind was solely in charge of driving. There is way too much data to process...way too many steering, accelerating, and breaking adjustments to make...too many bad drivers to watch out for.
The subconscious mind is the ultimate multitasker... it can pay attention to all these things and run your heart, kidneys and other bodily functions all at the same time. Concentration of awareness takes effort. Sooner or later we would relax our concentration at the wrong time. Subconscious perception never takes a break unless we are in a deep dreamless sleep...even then it can be suddenly aroused.
Certain neural networks are given higher priorities than others. Even though the brain is a powerful multitasker, it knows how and when to get your attention. Survival networks are given the highest priority of all.
For example, when driving conditions are NOT routine...such as a during a snowstorm...our conscious awareness returns - sometimes with a vengeance.
Our fight-or-flight response kicks in and we can feel the adrenalin pumping through our system. Fear and hyper-vigilance take over. It would be hard to doze off in this situation.
Another example of our survival network being triggered by subconscious perception is when we suddenly jump back onto the curb just seconds BEFORE we would have been hit by a car...
...or that time you slammed on your breaks just seconds BEFORE you became aware of that guy who stepped out in front of you... we refer to these abilities as our "reflexes" or "instincts".
A lack of experience is often the reason so many teenagers have accidents and get "careless" traffic tickets when they are learning to drive. They have not yet fully developed their subconscious neural network for driving...they must rely too heavily on their conscious mind.
Consciously directing our awareness 100% of the time is not possible. Our attention is bound to drift off sooner or later. If we don't yet have our "reflexes" well-established to respond to our subconscious signals of danger... well, that's how accidents happen.
Asking the conscious mind to stay on top of everything is like asking Captain Kirk to operate the Starship Enterprise in the heat of battle without a crew.
Captain Kirk merely decides and commands. He does not get bogged down with the details of implementation... nor should he. He needs to concentrate all of his awareness on making one critical decision after another at a moments notice.
In the same way we cannot afford to get bogged down in details and routines. Our limited conscious awareness must be on making decisions and getting things done.
Subconscious perception occurs as sensory pathways (i.e., hear, see, touch, smell and taste networks) continue taking in data at a fantastic rate... even when we are not consciously paying attention. This creates an endless stream of sensory data coming in and being processed beneath our awareness.
More than 90% of what we do everyday is carried out by a subconscious programs (Neural Networks)... putting on our shoes, taking a shower, driving to work...all completed by our subconscious mind leaving us free to focus on our to-do list and the day ahead.
To demonstrate... I'd like you to consciously raise one of your arms straight out to the side. Now, notice that I said consciously raise your arm...
To raise your arm consciously means you must know which of 159 muscles to activate first... at what intensity... and in what sequence to activate the remaining 158 in order to accomplish this.
I don't know about you... but I didn't even know that there were that many muscles involved... much less which ones they are. Yet I can easily raise my arm - just don't ask me how!
Like Capt. Kirk, all you can really do consciously is decide to raise your arm in response to my request...The subconscious mind does the rest.
Explore the following links to delve deeper into the workings of your very own super-computer: