U.S. daylight-saving time will end at 2 a.m. Sunday when clocks are set back one hour. With the time change and shorter daylight hours, AAA Northern New England reminds drivers that the time change can disturb their sleep patterns and possibly cause drowsy driving, leading to dangerous conditions during darker evening commutes.
In a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety researchers found the impact of having drowsy drivers on the road is considerable. Researchers found that drivers who have slept fewer than five hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk. And missing just one to two hours of sleep can nearly double the crash risk.
AAA recommends drivers adjust their habits behind the wheel and watch for children and others outdoors who will be less visible, especially during the first weeks of the time change.
“To reduce the risk of drowsy driving in the days following the time change, drivers should get at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road,” said Pat Moody, manager of public affairs for AAA Northern New England. “AAA researchers have found that missing just one to two hours of sleep can nearly double the risk for a crash.”
Drivers should be aware that the morning sun may cause reflections off car windows, hoods or other metallic portions of automobiles and can be a serious hazard to drivers and pedestrians. In addition, children, pedestrians, joggers, walkers and bicyclists could be much less visible in the evenings.
AAA recommends vehicle owners take the time to restore or replace deteriorated headlight lenses. With 50% of crashes occurring at night, drivers should check their headlights for signs of deterioration and invest in new headlights or, at a minimum, a low-cost headlight cleaning and restoration kit to boost the safety of driving after dark. Headlights can show signs of deterioration after three years but most commonly by year five.
AAA recommends the following tips:
- See and be seen – drivers need to see you to avoid you.
- Make eye contact with drivers when crossing streets.
- Wear bright colors or reflective clothing at night.
- Carry a flashlight when walking or walking pets in the dark.
- Walk on the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
- Do not rely on your body to provide warning signs for drowsiness. Instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.
- Travel at times of the day when you are normally awake.
- Avoid heavy foods.
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.
Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, and financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of over 64 million members across North America, including over 56 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA offers or become a member, visit AAA.com.