Whether you enjoy having an extra hour of light at the end of the day or prefer to wake up with the sun, the change to Daylight Saving Time has its pros and cons for everyone. One aspect we tend to overlook when the time changes is whether it increases the risk of auto accidents as our bodies adjust to a shift in our schedules.
At the heart of the question lies the problem with driving while fatigued. Did you feel more tired than usual Monday evening? If so, you're certainly not alone. Drowsy drivers can be just as dangerous on the road as those who get behind the wheel after drinking, or drivers who text. Taking your eyes and mind off the task at hand can have dire consequences, but can Daylight Saving Time really wreak this much havoc on our ability to drive safely?
The National Road Safety Foundation thinks it does: the nonprofit organization has warned drivers to be wary of getting behind the wheel at the end of the day for the next few weeks, while our bodies and brains become accustomed to losing an hour.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving is the cause of over 100,000 car accidents each year, resulting in approximately 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries. Shockingly, this drowsy driving isn't uncommon. Surveys conducted by the NHTSA reflect more than 30% of drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel, while 60% of those surveyed confess they have driven fatigued.
A recent report from CBSNewYork claims drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident on the Monday after Daylight Saving Time begins, making it one of the deadliest days on the road. If you're hurt in an accident because another driver was drowsy, seek medical attention and consider contacting car accident lawyers in your area for help.
So how can we prepare our internal clocks for this abrupt change in schedule? Be on the lookout for signs of driver fatigue:
- Difficulty focusing
- Drifting out of lane
- Driving over rumble sticks on the outside of a lane
- Excessive blinking
- Forgetting the last few miles driven
- Nodding off
- Rubbing eyes
If you experience any of these warning signs of fatigue, or if you observe it in another driver, the National Road Safety Foundation suggests pulling off of the road and finding a safe spot to take a 20-minute nap, if possible. The worst thing to do is keep driving. Drink a cup of coffee or have a caffeinated snack, allowing 30 minutes for the caffeine to enter your bloodstream.
Keep these symptoms of drowsy driving in mind while you enjoy the extended sunshine and the roads will be safer for everyone.