With daylight saving time ending on Sunday, many Americans gain an hour of sleep. However, that change of time affects many aspects of our lives, including driving.
Among the results of turning the clock back in the fall are that drivers likely will have increased chances of driving in the dark and the potential of drowsy driving due to the disruption of sleep patterns. The early morning commute to work may experience increased crashes.
Nearly half of fatal accidents occur in darkness
Driving in the dark always is more dangerous than driving during the day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted that 49% of fatalities involving passenger vehicles occur at dark. Also, the passenger vehicle fatality rate at nighttime is about three times higher than during the day.
The sleep factor also may play a role when daylight saving time ends, too, potentially leading to fatigue and drowsy driving. However, drowsy driving plays a much larger factor when daylight saving time arrives in the spring.
In March, when we set the clocks ahead an hour, we lose sleep. A study conducted by the University of Colorado at Boulder disclosed that fatal accidents climb 6% during the week after the time change in the spring.
Take precautionary measures
Experts recommend that people remain extra cautious when driving in the dark. Drive at the posted speed limit, slow down, avoid distractions and do not tailgate. Please drive safely, follow the four-second driving rule and drive at a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
Also, if your body is having trouble adjusting to the time change, try going to sleep 15 minutes earlier each night for a week or two. This strategy will especially help you in the spring by following this routine the week before daylight saving time begins.