With the end of daylight saving time this weekend, motorists will be presented with challenges that could impact safety, AAA Northern New England recommends motorists prepare for potential problems associated with changes in sleep patterns, brighter morning commutes, and darker evening commutes.
“While many will enjoy an extra hour of sleep this weekend, unfortunately motorists will also gain extra risk on their evening commute,” says Pat Moody, manager of public affairs for AAA Northern New England. “This one-hour shift in time creates darker driving conditions reducing visibility during peak evening commutes.”
This time of year, drivers are on the road more when it’s dark and with 50 percent of crashes occurring at night, darkened roads will make it harder to spot pedestrians, bicyclists and other objects. Driving at night presents challenges for all drivers however older drivers can face substantially increased risk. Older drivers may experience decreased visual distance and sensitivity to the contrast between darkness and bright lights along roadways.
When combined with an earlier dusk, disturbed sleep patterns can become a formula for fatigue-related crashes. The dangers of sleep deprivation are further highlighted by the latest AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index. Ninety-five percent of motorists view drowsy driving as very or extremely dangerous, but 17% admitted to driving when they were so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at least once in the previous 30 days before the survey (2020 Traffic Safety Culture Index)
AAA provides the following tip to help reduce your risk of a night driving collision:
- Adjust your speed to the reach of your headlights. Do not “overdrive” your headlights by driving at a speed that wouldn’t allow you to stop for an obstacle at the far reaches of your headlights.
- Visit your optometrist annually
- Inspect headlights for deterioration and have them serviced if they appear hazy or yellowing. 80% of your headlight illumination can be blocked by aged headlight lens.
- Inspect and replace pitted windshields and worn windshield wiper blades.
- Regularly clean headlights and windshield – Make sure to clean both the inside and outside of your windshield.
- Avoid being blinded by oncoming high beams. If the driver of an oncoming vehicle fails to dim the lights, look down toward the right side of the road to avoid being blinded. You should be able to see the edge of the lane or the painted edge line and stay on course until the vehicle passes.
- Adjust mirrors to reduce glare. Properly adjusted mirrors not only reduce blind spots, they also reduce glare from vehicles behind you.
- Cabin Illumination Many newer vehicles come with brightly lit infotainment screens and dashboard clusters that can be dimmed improving your vision for the road.
- Be responsible – Wear your safety belt every trip and drive distraction and impairment free.
According to NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 32 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur between 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. If you are a pedestrian make sure you’re visible to drivers at all times and make eye contact with them whenever possible. This is especially important at night, in low-light conditions such as dusk or dawn or in inclement weather.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 62 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services. Operating 18 offices throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, AAA Northern New England is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying corporation and serves as an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers, visit AAA.com