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How Can I Drive Safely When Daylight Saving Time Begins?

Posted on: February 28, 2022

Daylight saving time begins on March 13 this year, almost a week before spring starts. Although people look forward to the change and enjoy having longer days, the human body needs time to adjust. Since clocks gets pushed ahead one hour, a precious hour of needed sleep is lost and for many people, it takes longer than just one day to catch up. As a result, they can feel disoriented and groggy for up to a week. This is bad enough if you are trying to get things done around the house or trying to stay awake at work, but it can be quite dangerous if you are driving.

The National Sleep Foundations reports that close to 50 percent of adult drivers in the United States admit that they have driven while drowsy. They also claim that workers over age 40, transportation professionals, and shift workers may be at increased risk for drowsy driving at the start of daylight saving time. Basically, any kind of interruption to your sleep can make you feel fatigued. This next part is frightening: The symptoms of drowsy driving are similar to those of someone who is driving under the influence. Most people understand just how dangerous,  and deadly,  falling asleep at the wheel can be. At a minimum, the sleepy driver may wind up in a car accident.

What Are the Symptoms of Fatigued Driving?

Everyone’s body has a sleep/wake cycle that alerts them when to be up and active and when to be sleep. The urge for sleeping is strongest in the early morning hours, and daylight saving time disrupts this natural body clock timing. Fatigued drivers can have symptoms at any time of day, and around March 13 there may even be more of them on the roads.

One of the main symptoms of fatigued driving includes slowed reaction time. This means that a driver might not proceed when a light changes from red to green, neglect to yield, slow down or stop, and not react fast enough to avoid an accident. Falling asleep at the wheel is another symptom, as is losing focus and drifting out of a lane, forgetting the last few miles driven, being unaware of the surroundings, and making poor decisions such as speeding through stop signs.

People can also get angry when they are fatigued, because they are frustrated at how they are feeling. This can lead to more aggressive driving. It is common for tired drivers to be running late; this can cause them to drive too fast, tailgate, and perform other unsafe and reckless driving maneuvers.

How Can I Prepare for Daylight Saving Time?

The risks associated with daylight saving time sleepiness can be mitigated if you take a few precautions ahead of time. About a week before March 13, start going to bed a little earlier. This can be just 10 to 15 minutes and will not make much of a difference in your nighttime routine. If you are unable to get to be earlier, try sleeping a little longer in the mornings.

The night before daylight saving time starts, set your clock forward an hour, but do this around 6:00 p.m. instead of waiting until you go to bed. It is also a good idea to turn all your clocks in your house forward when you do this. This will get you in the right mindset sooner and can encourage more restful sleep. Remember that cell phones do this automatically.

Safe Daylight Saving Time Driving Tips

The peak times for daylight saving time fatigue-related collisions are from 2:00 to 4:00 a.m. and 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., so for the week following the time change, do your best to avoid driving during those times. Rush hour driving always presents a higher risk for accidents, but you might not be able to avoid that. Be sure to listen to traffic and weather reports and set up your route on your GPS before setting out.

Maintaining safe speeds and following distances are always important, but even more so during this time of year because the roads may be full of fatigued drivers with slower reaction times. Giving yourself these added buffers can prevent you from getting into a serious collision. Just as importantly, if you see someone else driving aggressively, get as far away as you can. They might also be drowsy and in a hurry to make it to work on time.

A large number of fatal car accidents are caused by distracted driving; if you have a phone in hand while driving, you are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident. A fatigued driver who cannot focus on the road is more likely to be distracted by a cell phone, plus other things such as pets and passengers in their cars, billboards, the radio, and GPS. If they are running behind, motorists might also be busy fixing makeup, combing their hair, or eating behind the wheel. People who are in a so-called fog while driving and doing any of these do not realize that their eyes, hands, and minds are otherwise occupied until it is too late.

More Safe Driving Tips

Another problem that the time change causes is significant glare that makes it harder to see. Dirty windshields make this worse, so this is a good time to clean them. Start by wiping the insides with dry microfiber cloths, and then wipe again with rubbing alcohol, going in the same pattern. Flip the cloth over, spray it with glass cleaner, and wipe in a circular motion. Repeat this on the exterior windows and all your side windows. Allow the glass to dry naturally, and it should be crystal clear when you are finished.

Darker mornings mean that you will need to use your headlights, and you may not be in the habit of doing this at this time of day. Remember to keep them on to help you see better and to help others see you, and make sure they are working properly. Poor headlight quality makes it difficult to see well, so you should not neglect to maintain them. Check them before daylight saving time and replace, repair, or clean them as needed.

Also keep a pair of UV protection sunglasses in your car because that glare can really be blinding. Polarized styles are especially good for this. Be on the lookout for pedestrians, school buses, and children; always drive carefully in neighborhoods and school zones, and slow down and stop for school buses when their red lights are flashing.

Being Prepared for Safer Driving

With March 13 quickly approaching, smart drivers know the steps to take to prevent daylight saving time car accidents. The prep work includes going to bed early several nights before, adjusting all your clocks an hour right around dinnertime, and staying off the roads from 2:00 to 4:00 a.m. and 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Have a pair of UV polarized sunglasses to combat glare, and clean and repair your windshields and headlights.

Also give yourself extra time when driving, drive defensively, and be on the lookout for fatigued drivers. If you see anyone who is drifting out of their lane, not paying attention, or driving aggressively, steer clear for your own safety.

Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Advocate for Clients Involved in Automobile Accidents Year-Round

The change to daylight saving time brings challenges to motorists, making it especially important to practice safe driving habits. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, reach out to the Monmouth County car accident lawyers at Ellis Law. Our experienced legal will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. For a free, confidential consultation, call us at 732-308-0200 or complete our online form. We are located in Freehold, New Jersey, and help clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, Marlboro, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn, New York, and New York City.