CHARLOTTE, N.C. (November 1, 2019) – As we prepare to turn our clocks back an hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday, with the end of Daylight Saving Time, AAA Carolinas warns motorists of some of the challenges they might face such as a darker commute home and the potential of drowsy driving.
“Shorter days mean many of us will be driving home from work in the dark and traffic deaths are 3 times greater at night than during the day,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “It is important that motorists be extra defensive behind the wheel and watch their surroundings for animals and pedestrians.”
The risk of drowsy driving also increases with the time change, so drivers should begin taking proper precautions now to ensure they get adequate rest.
Sleep-deprived drivers cause more than 6,400 deaths and 50,000 debilitating injuries on American roadways each year.
“Ninety percent of your reaction time depends on your ability to see what’s around you, and since your depth perception color recognition and peripheral vision decrease after sundown, your chances for a crash tend to increase,” added Wright.
Symptoms of drowsy driving can include having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes or not remembering the last few miles driven. However, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel.
Research from 2016 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report on sleep deprivation and motor vehicle crashes shows that drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash.(2) With drowsy driving involved in more than one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year, getting less than seven hours of sleep may have deadly consequences.
AAA Carolinas offers the following tips to help drivers avoid potential crashes:
- Rest Up: Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. If you do begin to feel drowsy while driving, pull over immediately and rest or call a family member or friend for assistance.
- Be prepared for morning/afternoon sun glare: Sun glare in the morning or late afternoon can cause temporary blindness. To reduce the glare, AAA Carolinas recommends wearing high-quality sunglasses and adjusting the car’s sun visors as needed. Use of the night setting on rearview mirrors can reduce glare from headlights approaching from the rear.
- Car Care Maintenance: Keep headlights, tail lights, signal lights, and windows (inside and out) clean.
- Ensure headlights are properly aimed: Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce visibility.
- Keep headlights on low beams when following another vehicle, so other drivers are not blinded.
- Reduce your speed and increase your following distances. It is more difficult to judge other vehicles’ speeds and distances at night.
- Be mindful of pedestrians and crosswalks: Yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.