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.
While many will enjoy an extra hour of sleep this weekend, few commuters and motorists realize the added dangers that can come as the result of a time change – especially when they are behind the wheel,” said Goodman. “This one hour shift in time during the fall not only creates darker driving conditions, it can also disturb sleep patterns, perhaps even resulting in drowsy driving episodes.”
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.
“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.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services. Operating 19 offices throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, AAA Northern New England is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying corporation and a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Today, AAA members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip-planning services, and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available by visiting www.AAA.com.