AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – With US daylight-saving time set to end at 2 a.m. Sunday when clocks are set back one hour, AAA Texas warned that drivers and pedestrians should have extra caution on the roads as people adjust to the change.
According to AAA, the shorter daylight hours and time change could cause disturbances in people’s sleep patterns, leading to motorists risking drowsy driving. This risk is made worse when paired with drivers seeing an earlier sunset and darker evening commutes.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that drowsy drivers have a “considerable” impact on the road. Research from the foundation reported that drivers who have less than five hours of sleep can see a risk of crashing similar to if they were driving drunk, and missing one to two hours of sleep can nearly double crash risk.
With these risks in mind, AAA suggested drivers adjust their habits behind the wheel and watch for children and others outdoors who will be less visible in the lower light, especially for a couple of weeks after the time change.
“To reduce the risk of drowsy driving in the days following the time change, drivers should get at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road,” said AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. “AAA researchers have found that missing just one to two hours of sleep can nearly double the risk for a crash.”
The morning sun could also cause reflections off car windows, hoods, or other metal parts of vehicles and can be another hazard for everyone on the roads. Children, pedestrians, joggers, walkers, and bicyclists could also be far less visible in the evenings.
Drivers were also recommended by AAA to change or fix deteriorated headlight lenses. With the majority of crashes happening at night, drivers should check their headlights for signs of damage and age and take measures to make sure they’re reliable for driving during darker hours. Headlights can show signs of deteriorating after three years, but most commonly by around five.
AAA’s suggestions for pedestrians included;
- See and be seen – Drivers need to see you to avoid you.
- Make eye contact with drivers when crossing streets.
- Wear bright colors or reflective clothing at night.
- Carry a flashlight when walking or walking pets in the dark.
- Walk on the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
Tips for drivers;
- Do not rely on your body to provide warning signs for drowsiness. Instead, make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep before driving.
- Travel at times of the day when you are normally awake.
- Avoid heavy foods.
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.