Time to Fall Back: Tips for Daylight Saving Time

by Gwen Newell

Whether you savor soaking up the extra sunlight that comes with summer or dread the jarring time change that comes with fall, one thing’s for certain: Daylight Saving Time is inevitable. And while the time change brings an initial extra hour of sleep, it’s important to factor in other changes outside of our sleep schedules that should be taken into account. Possible dangers that may be encountered with the time change is all the more reason why it’s important to focus on the road as it gets darker earlier. With factors such as drowsy driving and driving in the dark, it is vital to provide safety tips in conjunction with the end of daylight saving time.

Drowsy driving is not only a significant traffic safety issue but one of the possible dangers associated with the time change. People “falling back” by moving their clocks back by one hour may think they are gaining an extra hour of sleep, but they need to remember to monitor their sleep schedule to prevent drowsiness on the road.  According to AAA Foundation research, drivers who have slept for less than 5 hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk and drivers who miss one to two hours of sleep can nearly double their risk for a crash.

AAA recommends that drivers 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. Drivers should also travel at times of the day when they are normally awake and avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.

Dark conditions are another danger that can make it harder to see when driving and lack of visibility can make for unsafe driving conditions. As we adjust to the end of daylight saving time, it’s a good time to check the illumination of your headlights. With 50% of crashes occurring at night, drivers should check their headlights for signs of deterioration and invest in new headlights or, at minimum, a low-cost headlight cleaning and restoration to boost the safety of driving after dark.

Drivers should check their headlights for changes in appearance such as yellowing or clouding. If the bulb is difficult to see, it’s time to have the lens replaced or restored as soon as possible. Cloudy or yellowed headlights are like driving with no headlights at all, as the light output is reduced by 80% – this makes driving in the dark risky, especially on unlit roads.

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