The end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) for another year brings driving challenges for Floridians who suddenly find themselves driving to work and other obligations in the morning directly in to the sunrise. For many more people, it means driving home in early evening darkness or in to the sunset.
These changes, along with the effects that the time change has on the body’s internal clock and sleep/wake cycles can create a dangerous situation on the roads. According to AAA, studies have shown that “the biggest impact of setting our clocks back one hour can be felt on some of the skills that affect the quality of driving – concentration, alertness behind the wheel, and reaction time to potential hazards.”
There are even more drowsy drivers on the road this time of year than usual because many people’s sleep patterns have been disrupted by the time change. This can be hazardous for people in vehicles and on motorcycles as well as bicyclists, runners and pedestrians.
If you’re already dealing with the aftermath of a car crash and still a bit nervous when you’re behind the wheel, sudden changes in daylight hours can be stressful and even frightening. Those fears are backed up by data showing an increase in crashes in the two weeks following the end of DST.
So, what can you do to help keep yourself and others safe? AAA offers the following tips:
- Slow down.
- Turn on your headlights during your morning and evening commutes to make your vehicle more visible, but don’t use your high beams unless you’re in an area with no other vehicles or pedestrians.
- Make sure your headlights are clean.
- Don’t pass vehicles that are stopped at a crosswalk even if you don’t see anyone crossing and you have the right-of-way.
- Keep your windshields and windows clean to improve your ability to see.
In essence, be extra careful. This will help you as you adjust to the new daylight hours and put you in a safer position if others on the road aren’t as diligent about their safety.
The end of DST, like other environmental factors, is not an excuse for negligence or recklessness. If you have been injured in a crash caused by another driver, don’t hesitate to seek the compensation you need and deserve.