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What are Some Tips to Drive Safely after the Time Change?

Posted on: November 6, 2021

Daylight saving time ends at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 7, in New Jersey and across the United States. Although Americans experience this change twice a year, every year, it always takes several days or more for the body and brain to adjust.

With more light in the morning and less in the evening, your mind must acclimate to the change. Even the hour difference in sleep can fool your body’s natural clock. Your body’s circadian rhythm that regulates sleep and wake cycles needs time to adjust as well.

Studies show an increase in car accidents around both annual time changes. Therefore, how can you drive safely after the time change? Following are some excellent tips.

  • Recognize there will be changes. Even one hour can make a difference in driving conditions. For example, if you are accustomed to driving in daylight during the evening rush hour, chances are it will now be dark. Adjust your driving behavior to accommodate the change. And remember, everyone driving around you will be adjusting as well.
  • Get adequate sleep. Both annual time changes can wreak havoc on your body’s internal clock for days or weeks. You may feel more tired during the day and while driving in the afternoon or evening. You may also have trouble falling asleep and waking. Until your body adjusts to the time change, adapt your schedule to ensure the appropriate amount of sleep.
  • Be extra vigilant on the roads. If you’re used to driving a particular route home from work in the daylight, remember that you will now probably be operating in the dark. That calls for following your best nighttime driving behaviors: no speeding, use your lights, clean the windshield and windows, drive defensively, increase the distance from the car in front, and watch for pedestrians.
  • Prepare your vehicle. The fall time change signals that winter is on its way. For New Jersey and much of the United States, that means cold along with snowy and icy conditions. You can handle the changing seasons with confidence if prepared. Have your tires checked, change to snow tires if necessary, inspect your battery and fluid levels, and assemble a winter driving safety kit.
  • Remember that animals adjust, too. Animals that forage at dusk or dawn may now be looking for food or shelter earlier or later. Beware of them on the side of the road or springing out in front of you while you are driving at times you do not expect them to be there.
  • Stay alert. Late afternoon and early evening are popular times for the evening commute from work. Unfortunately, they are also typical times for natural drowsiness. That drowsiness can be compounded by earlier darkness, making it even more difficult to remain attentive and awake. Just know that there is the potential for sleepiness and adjust your driving and lifestyle habits.
  • Be cautious when planning trips. In the spring and summer, most people planning road trips can count on driving at least a few hours in the evening while it is light. The fall time adjustment will change that. Changing your driving hours for fall vacations or holiday road trips may be necessary if driving in the dark is difficult or uncomfortable for you or another driver.
  • Look out for children and bikes. Even with the time change, youngsters still may ride their bikes or walk home from practice after school, for example. That 6:00 p.m. football practice is in daylight in early fall but in the dark in later fall. It may be harder to see pedestrians and bicycles after the time change, so be extra vigilant.
  • Help your teen drivers. Teens have a hard enough time getting up early and sleeping enough hours during the night. They may be significantly affected by the time change. Explain to them that they need to use extra caution on the road and give them tips to safely get themselves around while their bodies adjust to the time change.
  • Beware of falling leaves. Autumn is the prime time for trees to shed their leaves, and both wet and dry leaves can cause roads to become slippery. Drive over leaves with caution and try not to brake suddenly if you are on leaves, as your car could slide. Never drive through a pile of leaves; children have been known to hide or play in them.
  • Watch for slippery roads. Fall is often chilly and rainy, causing streets to become slick or icy if temperatures fall below freezing. Always slow down and brake slowly on a wet autumn road and take heed of road signs that caution that a bridge or overpass freezes before the roadway.
  • Guard against glare. Some of the strongest sunlight occurs in the fall because of the sun’s changing position. That morning drive to work could be blinding with the time change, so keep your sunglasses in the car year-round. It can be challenging to see stoplights in blinding sun, too, so always use caution as you approach one.

What Should I Do after a Fall Car Accident?

Even the most vigilant and safe driver can get into an accident through no fault of their own. If you are in an accident after the fall time change, here are some excellent steps to take.

  • Call for help. If able, call 911 for help. Bystanders and other motorists will often call if there is an accident, so do so only if it is safe and you are physically able.
  • Check for injuries. If able to move freely, check yourself and your passengers for injury. If possible, administer light first aid, such as stopping a bleeding gash, but do not cause additional harm. When in doubt of the extent of injuries, never move a person who may have a neck or spine injury.
  • Cooperate with police. Answer questions truthfully, but do not overshare information. Anything you say will be become part of the police report and could be used against you in a later legal action or insurance negotiation.
  • Do not admit guilt. Never admit guilt or responsibility for an accident to the police, the other driver, an insurance representative, or anyone else. Also, do not apologize, as that can potentially imply guilt. 
  • Get witness statements. If able, talk to bystanders and other witnesses. Get their comments along with their names and contact information.
  • Take pictures. Use your cellphone to take video and pictures of the accident scene, including the location of the cars involved, damages, strewn parts, injuries, and weather and road conditions.
  • Seek medical care after the accident. Some injuries can take hours or days to appear. This is often the cause with soft tissue or some brain injuries. Always seek medical care whenever new symptoms arise even weeks or months after an accident.
  • Do not accept an insurance offer. Insurance companies want to minimize their losses as much as possible. If you are a victim of someone else’s negligent driving, that person’s insurance company will almost always offer a quick settlement. Do not take it. Their initial offer will never cover your total current and future losses. They are preying on your fears of medical bills and potentially lost wages.
  • Hire a lawyer. An experienced lawyer understands how insurers operate. They can defend against those tactics and help guide you toward a fair and just settlement. Sometimes that means back-and-forth negotiations with an insurance company. Other times the lawyer will recommend taking the case to court.

Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Will Fight for You after a Fall Car Accident

If you or a loved one is injured after a car accident, contact the Monmouth County car accident lawyers at Ellis Law. We believe that no one should bear the entire financial burden of an accident caused by a negligent driver in the fall or any time of year. We will thoroughly investigate the accident and will fight to protect your rights. For a free consultation, call us at 732-308-0200 or complete our online form. We are located in Freehold, New Jersey, and help clients throughout Freehold, 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.

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