Drivers are reminded to stay alert as ‘Spring’ clocks tick forward
Surging forward can mean falling back into a bad driving habit – sleepy driving. The arrival of daylight saving time this weekend means an hour less sleep, a darker morning commute and the potential for drowsier drivers on the road. AAA reminds drivers to adjust their sleep patterns as well as their clocks, to stay alert while driving and to watch out for pedestrians, especially children who will be on their way to school and may be difficult to see.
“When the clock changes, sleep cycles are interrupted and drivers may be more tired than they realize,” said Jim Lardear, AAA’s director of public and government affairs. “Losing an hour of sleep requires adjustment and drivers need to prepare by getting more rest, especially on Sundays.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 35% of US drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours a day. Previous AAA Search indicates that almost all drivers (96%) say they consider drowsy driving a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior. However, 29% admitted to driving when they were so tired they had trouble keeping their eyes open at some point in the month before the survey.
“Knowing the warning signs of drowsiness can help drivers avoid falling asleep at the wheel,” Lardear said. “Symptoms include difficulty keeping your eyes open, drifting out of your lane, and not remembering the last few miles you drove.”
Drivers shouldn’t rely on their bodies to provide warning signs of drowsiness, however, and should instead prioritize at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.
To avoid drowsy driving, AAA recommends that drivers:
- Travel at times of day when they are normally awake
- Prioritize sleep, getting at least seven hours a night
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other disturbances
For longer trips, drivers should:
- Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
- Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving
- Don’t underestimate the power of a quick nap. Stopping and taking a short nap – at least 20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes of sleep – can help keep you alert on the roads
Losing an hour on the weekend can make drivers foggy for the Monday morning commute. The morning commute for several weeks to come will be much darker than what drivers have been used to in recent weeks. It is important for drivers to be alert and remember that children will be on their way to school and may be difficult to see. According to findings from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released in 2021, 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark.
AAA recommends the following:
- To slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed than a pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
- Stay alert. Drivers should always avoid distracted driving, but this is especially important in school zones and residential neighborhoods.
- Headlights. Turn on the vehicle’s daytime running lights or headlights, even during the day, so that children and other drivers can see you more easily. But, remember to turn them off when you reach your destination to preserve your battery life.
Advice for pedestrians:
- When walking, pocket the cell phone and avoid listening to music or an audio player at a volume that prevents you from hearing imminent danger.
- Cross at intersections or crosswalks – not in the middle of the street or between parked cars. Do not jaywalk.
- Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks. If you must walk on a road that has no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
- Assess the distance and speed of oncoming traffic before exiting onto the street.
- Wear bright colors or reflective clothing if walking near traffic at dawn, dusk and night. Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
- Allow extra time and distance for a vehicle to stop in inclement weather.
- Don’t let umbrellas or jacket hoods block your view of oncoming traffic.
SLOW DOWN MOVE
Tired drivers are not as focused and even if there is more daylight they are still likely to be distracted. First responders, construction workers and people stranded on the side of the road are vulnerable to drivers who are not careful and are at greater risk of being hit.
- It’s not just towing contractors and other emergency responders who are killed on the side of the road. Since 2015, more than 1,600 people have been struck and killed while outside a disabled vehicle.
- Stay alert, avoid distractions and focus on driving.
- Keep an eye out for situations where emergency vehicles, tow trucks, utility service vehicles or disabled vehicles are stopped on the side of the road.
- When you see these situations, slow down and, if possible, move one lane above and away from people and vehicles stopped on the side of the road.
Since daylight saving time brings more hours of light, drivers may not use their headlights as often. But when they do, a lack of visibility at night can create dangerous driving conditions. Changing the clocks is a good reminder to check the condition 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 a minimum, low-cost headlight cleaning and restoration to enhance driving safety. after dark.
- Headlights may show signs of deterioration after 3 years, but most often around year 5.
- AAA suggests drivers check their headlights for changes in appearance such as yellowing or clouding. If the bulb is hard to see, it’s time to replace or restore the lens as soon as possible.
- Replacement and restoration services are available at most repair shops, including AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities.
- Do-it-yourself restoration offers savings to consumers, is relatively simple and improves light output sufficiently.
- Make sure the headlights are properly re-aimed to maximize forward lighting performance and minimize glare for oncoming and preceding drivers.