Daylight savings is a hotly discussed topic these days. The question of its relevance today often comes up, but nonetheless, twice a year we change the clock, and adjust our bodies to a new schedule. The end of Daylight Savings – when the clocks fall back – is November 7th this year. Changing the clocks back an hour lets us gain an hour of sleep – what’s not to love? But this also means that the sun sets an hour earlier, and our days are shorter and darker.
It takes time to adjust to a change in our schedule. It’s easy to assume that with an extra hour of sleep, drivers will be more awake and alert, but various studies prove otherwise. A US study shows a notable increase in traffic accidents when the time shifted in both the beginning and end of daylight savings. When our sleeping schedules are interrupted it can affect our health, make us drowsy and more accident prone.
To avoid these dangers of drowsy driving follow these tips:
- Keep Your Regular Sleep Schedule
Go to sleep at about the same time even if you are not tired. Do not go to bed an hour after you usually would, instead give yourself the extra hour of sleep granted to you.
- Wake Yourself Up Right
Give yourself plenty of time in the morning to get up and get ready to avoid rushing. Once up, doing some light stretches or exercise, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee, and eating a nutritious breakfast helps to establish a healthier routine, wakes you up, and sets yourself up for success.
- Enjoy the Morning Sunlight
The end of daylight savings means mornings are brighter which is very helpful to waking up alert and ready for the day. Leaving your blinds open a crack and letting the sunlight through in the morning helps to naturally wake your body up in a gentle way.
Brighter mornings mean darker nights, which is an adjustment for many drivers. For the previous 8 months, people generally returned home from work during broad daylight. Now drivers must adjust to less light. Driving in the dark, or at dusk is something I am sure most drivers have done. However, the drastic change of light from one day to the next requires some adjustment. Furthermore, dusk driving is when visibility is hardest. Rush hour at dusk requires a driver’s full alertness and attention, something they may not have after a night of compromised sleep.
When driving in the dark:
- Continuously Scan
Rush hour entails a higher volume of pedestrians and cyclists that may be difficult to see in the dark. Scan sidewalks, bike lanes, and crosswalks when approaching for signs of movement.
- Slow Down
While everybody is getting used to the time change, take it slow to ensure you are driving your safest, but also to give yourself time to react to other drivers on the road.
- Manage Your High Beams
While on the highway, it is advised that you use your high beams to scan the shoulders for animals, and to overall give yourself more visibility. However, while driving in the city, make sure your high beams are off as they can blind oncoming traffic and cause them to veer into the opposite lane, or into the paths of cyclists and pedestrians.
Pay extra attention to your awareness and alertness while driving after November 7th. Like many things, our bodies need a few days to adjust to the new schedule. Avoid driving drowsy and drive cautiously in the dark. Stay defensive and ready to react to others on the road. Overall, make smart, safe decisions on the road to protect yourself and others.
CLG Injury Law has over 35 years’ experience representing Atlantic Canadians who have suffered injuries following a motor vehicle accident. For more articles and safety tips, go to https://cantiniinjurylaw.ca/blog/ or subscribe to our newsletter.