Each March, we make the shift to daylight saving time, the annual practice of changing the time on our clocks to make the most of available daylight. In the process, we lose an hour of sleep and our bodies must make the adjustment to a new sleep-wake cycle. This can affect our health in many ways, but one of the most immediate ways this change can affect our well-being has to do with the fact that the collective loss of sleep associated with daylight saving time makes our roads less safe for drivers and other road users.
From causing drowsiness in drivers to sunlight changes that affect commuters’ visibility to inviting more road activity, the road-related effects of daylight saving time can influence our safety in some major ways, including an increased risk of a car accident.
Researchers have studied the potential links between annual clock changes and traffic safety, many of which have attributed an increase in motor vehicle accidents specifically to drowsy driving. Although the evidence is up for debate, it is undeniable that certain elements of the time change present challenges for drivers.
Therefore, what are drivers to do to keep safe on the roads while society makes the shift to daylight saving time? This discussion explores the factors that make driving during the transition less safe as well as the ways to mitigate the dangers of the shift.
What Factors Make Driving Less Safe during the Change to Daylight Saving Time?
The transition to daylight saving time affects driving safety in many ways. One of the most obvious ways involves the changes in road visibility. The day starts sooner than we are used to. For some early-morning commuters, the clock may say it is time for the morning drive before the sun comes up, which may take an adjustment. Drivers who have become used to a quiet homeward commute after dark in the evening may find that the roads are still full of activity as longer days allow people to stay out later.
How Can Drivers Be Safe during the Shift to Daylight Saving Time?
Below are some steps drivers can take to ensure safety on the roads during the transition.
Ward off drowsy driving. Get enough sleep yourself, using the tips below, and make sure you are taking precautions to keep from being hurt in an accident caused by others who may be drowsy behind the wheel. Keep safe by recognizing the signs of drowsy driving in yourself and others, as when another vehicle begins drifting into another lane or the road’s shoulder.
Avoid tailgating. Whether on you are commuting to and from work, driving as part of your job, or out running errands or for pleasure, you should refrain from driving too closely to the vehicle in front of you. Leaving this space is always a good tactic to prevent accidents, but it can be particularly useful when grogginess or visibility issues make it difficult to react quickly to situations that arise in the road ahead.
Use headlights. If you leave the house before dawn, you should make it part of your pre-drive routine to engage your car’s headlights. Turning on your headlights is important for you to be able to see the road and any possible obstructions ahead; it is also a vital way to ensure that you are seen by other drivers, especially any that may be dealing with a lag in their reaction time from the time shift.
Combat glare. In the initial days of daylight saving time, the position of the sun may be different than what you have become accustomed to. Sun glare can be a real impediment to driving safety. Using your car’s sun visors and a pair of good polarized sunglasses can help cut down on the dangers of sun glare.
Be aware of increased activity. Drivers must take extra care to keep a lookout for pedestrians, joggers, cyclists, and children who are more likely to be out and about as the weather begins to warm up at the same time that longer days mean more chances to be outside.
What Are Some Tips to Prevent Drowsy Driving during the Time Change?
Drivers can avoid drowsy driving by planning ahead to get enough sleep the night of the time change. Go to bed an hour early to give yourself enough time to sleep before you have to be up in the morning. Some people may benefit from adjusting their bedtime gradually, perhaps 15 minutes over the course of four nights. Switching your clock ahead of schedule can help you make the transition. Another trick is to move your daily evening schedule up by one hour, perhaps beginning with having an earlier dinner and performing your bedtime routine earlier.
What Are Some Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving?
The most obvious way to avoid drowsy driving is to routinely get enough sleep. When it becomes necessary to drive after receiving less than a full night’s rest, you should remain aware of the warning signs that indicate a need to pull over and get right before continuing to drive. These include:
- Excessive yawning
- Persistent blinking
- Trouble keeping your eyes open
- Failing to notice signs or turns
- Drifting into adjacent lanes or road’s shoulder
- Falling asleep at the wheel
Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Provide Legal Services to Clients Hurt by Negligent Drivers
People are injured every day by drowsy drivers. If you were seriously injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you should be able to collect compensation for your losses. The Monmouth County car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova can help you understand your rights and help you recover the damages for which you are entitled. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Ocean County, Sussex County, Neptune, Middlesex County, and Pennsylvania.