How Does Daylight Savings Time Affect Driving?

Posted by StriveSafe on Oct 30, 2019 12:25:50 PM

It's time of year again to adjust your clocks to adapt to the changing daylight. Remember spring forward and fall back? Aside from the hassle of figuring out to change that darn clock on your stove, Daylight Savings Time can have a real effect on your ability to stay sharp behind the wheel. Here are some ways that adjusting your clocks can affect your driving.

iStock-489428818

More time in the dark. In the fall, we turn the clocks back an hour to accommodate shorter days, as night descends earlier in the day. This means we will be spending more time driving in the dark. This is especially dangerous for teen drivers where the most dangerous times to be on the road are between 9pm and midnight.

More drowsy drivers on the road. Our bodies are governed by the Circadian Rhythm which acts as a kind of "internal clock," controlling our sleep and awake cycles. When we change the clocks, our bodies are unaware and are still governing their own cycles. This means it's takes us a while to adjust to the new time clocks. Drowsy driving is a side effect of this struggle and can affect everyone - even if you get enough sleep. Next month on the blog - learn more about drowsy driving.

Less sleep. In the fall, bedtime is earlier than our Circadian Rhythm wants to allow so it can be challenging to fall asleep on time, with increased wakefulness in the earlier part of the evening. Not getting enough sleep causes more drowsy driving.

So, what can you do to combat the effects of Daylight Savings Time?

  • Prepare your vehicle for driving in lowlight conditions by checking all headlights, taillights, and brake lights are working properly.
  • Stay alert on the evening commute, especially in rural areas where wildlife may be out during odd hours (they don't know about the time change!)
  • Adjust your bedtime to allow for extra hours of asleep during the first couple of weeks as you adjust to the time change.
  • Leave early to allow extra time on your commute so you are not trying to rush when your reaction times may be slower.

 

Sources:

https://www.nsc.org/driveithome/dih-blog/daylight-savings-time-effects-on-driving

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/what-circadian-rhythm

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/coping-with-time-changes

Topics: Tips and tricks, driving safety