U.S. daylight-saving time will end at 2 a.m. Sunday when clocks are set back one hour. The time change can cause disturbed sleep patterns, and when combined with the earlier dusk and darkness during the evening commute, become a formula for drowsy driving, according the Dan Goodman manager of public affairs for AAA Northern New England for New Hampshire and Vermont.
A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found the impact of having drowsy drivers on the road is considerable. Drowsy drivers are involved in an estimated 21% of fatal crashes, up 4.5% from 2010. The report also estimated drowsy driving causes 328,000 crashes, 109,000 injuries, and 6,400 deaths each year, as most drivers drift out of their lanes or off the road.
AAA Northern New England recommends that motorists be sure they are well rested, adjust their driving habits and also watch for children and others outdoors who will be less visible, especially during the first weeks of the time change.
In addition to setting clocks back one hour, motorists should be prepared for reduced visibility on the road. “Drivers can expect reduced visibility because the evening commute time will be darker,” said Goodman. “Teen drivers who aren’t as experienced with nighttime driving and motorists with vision issues may need to be especially careful.
“Before the time change, you may need to check to make sure all vehicle lights are working properly. When starting your commute, remember to turn on your headlights and then turn them off when you reach your destination,” Goodman said. “In addition, motorists should be prepared to face changed conditions during the morning commute.”
In addition, children, pedestrians, joggers, walkers and bicyclists likely will continue to be outside but will be a lot less visible during the evening commute. AAA recommends that motorists slow down and be extra alert, particularly in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Motorists should provide bicyclists with at least a three-foot buffer for safety.
AAA recommends the following tips for pedestrian safety:
- 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.
Recommendations for drivers:
- Motorists should be well-rested.
- Drivers should anticipate changing light conditions, especially during the first week of the time change.
- To reduce glare, invest in and wear high-quality sunglasses.
- Motorists should watch for children and families in neighborhoods and school bus routes, at intersections, and when backing out of driveways.
- Remember to turn on lights during dusk or semi-dark hours.