HAMILTON – This weekend we will turn the clocks forward (Daylight Saving Time officially begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 11), losing an hour of sleep in exchange for extended evening daylight hours. However, come Monday morning, many drivers will not be fully alert as they travel to work and school in the dark.
“A change in time can affect people physically and drivers can be more tired than they realize, said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. AAA recommends motorists prepare in advance for the time change by increasing their sleep time in the days ahead and getting a good night’s sleep on Sunday.”
In addition to dealing with drowsiness, motorists should be prepared to face reduced visibility during the morning commute. “If you begin your commute in the early morning hours, it may be necessary to use your headlights,” said Noble.
Late afternoon sun glare also may cause reflections off car windows, hoods and other metallic portions of automobiles and can be a serious hazard. Use visors, and sunglasses as necessary to cut down on glare and increase visibility. Many more pedestrians, joggers, children, and bicyclists will be outside because of the longer daylight hours during the evening commute; motorists should drive slower and be extra alert, particularly in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009, drowsy driving crashes injured more than 30,000 people. And, because police can’t always determine with certainty when driver fatigue causes a crash, the actual number may be higher.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
- You find yourself drifting out of your lane or hitting rumble strips.
- You can’t keep eyes open and focused.
- You have wandering, disconnected thoughts.
- You miss signs or drive past exit.
- You feel irritable and restless.
Before you hit the road, make sure you get adequate sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults get 7-9 hours of sleep to maintain proper alertness during the day.
AAA Tips for Drivers
- Slow down.
- Turn on your headlights. Make yourself more visible during early morning and evening hours.
- Keep vehicle headlights and windows (inside and out) clean.
- Watch the high beams. Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are around.
- Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
- Remember that your stopping distance is increased in rainy or snowy weather.
- Watch out for pedestrians when backing up in parking lots or driveways.
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