On November 3, daylight savings time will come to an end. Many people might be happy to gain an hour, but we all know it can take some time to adjust to this change.
Several studies in the past few years warn that whether we lose or gain an hour, daylight savings time directly correlates to a sharp increase of drowsy driving accidents each year. So, as we near the end of daylight savings time, all drivers must be aware of the risk of drowsy driving and know how they can reduce the chance of an accident.
Why does daylight savings time increase drowsy driving?
The National Safety Council reports that driving at night is the most dangerous time to drive. The end of daylight savings time means it will be darker for a longer amount of time, which results in two major risk factors:
- It induces tiredness: When it is dark outside, our body’s internal clock tells us it is time to sleep. This is natural, but it is incredibly dangerous when behind the wheel. After daylight savings time ends, it is usually dark during both the morning and evening commutes, making the roads even more dangerous at both times.
- It decreases visibility: Fatigue can impair and distract a driver. If a driver is not paying close attention when it is dark, the driver has a greater risk of not seeing signs, animals, pedestrians or even other vehicles.
Preparation is essential
Drowsy driving is already a larger problem than many people might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 25 people admit to falling asleep behind the wheel each month. It is likely that number will only increase as we get closer to November 3.
That is why all Maryland drivers must prepare long before we reach that date. Drivers can:
- Ensure they get enough sleep in the weeks and days leading up to the end of daylight savings time;
- Arrange to carpool to work for a few days, since driving alone can increase the chance of falling asleep behind the wheel; and
- Exercise before driving to increase alertness, as suggested by the Maryland Department of Transportation.
It is best for individuals to avoid getting behind the wheel at all if they feel even a little drowsy, but that is not always possible. If drivers create a routine to ensure they will be alert behind the wheel, they can help to reduce the chance of these dangerous accidents.