Daylight Savings Time Impacts Driving

DST (Daylight Savings Time) is a pain for most, we feel tired, grouchy and it takes days sometimes weeks to adjust.

Daylight Savings Time makes driving more dangerous

Studies suggest that DST also costs lives, particularly during the first several days after the nation “springs forward” an hour.

A 2014 study by the University of Colorado Boulder shows a 6.5% spike in fatal automobile collisions during the six days following the shift, and pins the cause as “shifting ambient light reallocates fatalities within a day, while sleep deprivation caused by the spring transition increases risk.”

It takes drivers nearly a week to adjust to the darker morning commutes, but the main cause is sleep deprivation caused by the loss of an hour of sleep.

Another study from Canada’s Manitoba Public Insurance in 2014 showed a 20 percent increase in crashes on the Monday following the start of daylight saving time compared to all other Mondays in 2014. 

Another study by Rutgers University professors Douglas Coate and Sara Markowitz concludes that pedestrian fatalities would be reduced by 171 per year, while motor vehicle occupant fatalities would be reduced by 195 per year if DST was abolished

To help prevent drowsy driving and stay safe on the road

  • Start going to bed and waking up earlier than normal in the days prior to daylight saving time.

  • Eat dinner earlier on Saturday. Our eating times are linked to our circadian rhythm, so try eating dinner an hour earlier on Saturday to help prime you for an earlier bedtime.

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol on Saturday.

  • Use light to help reset your circadian rhythm after the time change. Light strongly affects the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Expose yourself to bright lights when you wake up and during the day, especially in the late afternoon.

  • Prepare for a darker morning commute after the time change. Remember to turn on your car headlights to make yourself more visible on the road. Slow down and increase your following distance to compensate for the limited visibility and reduced stopping time that may result from the darker commute.

  • Avoid driving during rush hour and from 2-4 a.m

  • Watch for signs of drowsiness: slow eyelid closures, yawning, gentle swaying of the head, seat fidgeting, difficulty staying in your lane, difficulty maintaining speed, and delayed reactions.

  • Avoid distractions while driving. Distracted driving limits your attention to the road and can put you at greater risk for an accident, especially if you’re also driving on less sleep than you normally would.