Now that we’ve all set our clocks ahead to spring forward for Daylight Saving Time, it’s important to remind motorists of the possible dangers they may encounter with the time change, as it can be quite an adjustment in the first couple of weeks. Drowsy driving is a big traffic safety issue, so when we move our clocks ahead by one hour, we must also adjust our sleep schedule to prevent drowsiness on the road.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is 8x higher than federal estimates and is one of the most underreported traffic safety issues. Daylight Saving Time in the spring causes people to lose sleep, and the CDC says that 35% of US drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours daily so the spring DTS shift causes event more drowsiness behind the wheel.
Additionally, a 2020 study on the Chronobiological Evaluation of the Acute Effects of Daylight Saving Time on Traffic Accident Risk by the University of Colorado, Bolder – using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s FARS system (Fatality and Injury Reporting System) also published two very pertinent points in Current Biology:
- Spring Daylight Saving Time transition acutely increases fatal traffic crash risk by 6% in the U.S.
- Spring Daylight Saving Time transition-associated fatal crash risk is highest in the morning
AAA recommends that drivers should not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs for drowsiness and should instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road. Also, stay alert. Drivers should always avoid distractions while driving, but it is particularly important in school zones and residential neighborhoods, as moving clocks ahead one hour means it will be darker in the mornings for the next few weeks.