On Sunday, November 3rd, clocks will be set back an hour, marking the end of Daylight Saving Time. But, that one hour difference can present some unique driving challenges.
The fall time change means that more motorists will be traveling America’s roadways during peak traffic times without the benefit of daylight. Darkness makes it more difficult to distinguish objects; spot pedestrians, bicyclists and e-scooter riders; and judge distances and speeds of other vehicles. Color recognition and peripheral vision are compromised, and glare can temporarily blind you. Drivers must instead rely on artificial light sources, and some individuals have a hard time seeing clearly.
TIME TO “FALL BACK"... NOT ASLEEP
Turning back the clock and the earlier onset of darkness can throw off our internal clocks, and make drivers drowsier than usual. In fact, sleep experts warn that you can feel sluggish for at least a week or so after the time change. While most people are aware of the hazards of drinking and driving, many don’t realize that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous.
HOW TO MINIMIZE THE DANGERS
With the time change right around the corner, we remind you of the following safety tips:
Get your rest – Make sure you are properly rested as fatigue slows your reaction time, decreases awareness and impairs judgment.
Prepare your vehicle – As part of your pre-trip inspection, check that your vehicle’s headlights, taillights, signal and auxiliary lights are clean, properly adjusted and in working order. Thoroughly clean all windows and mirrors, and adjust the mirrors for optimal visibility. Replace wipers and top off the windshield washer reservoir as needed.
See and be seen – With the shorter daylight hours and the ever-changing weather that is common this time of year, motorists need to be aware of the importance of turning on headlights when dusk begins and keeping them on through sunrise. Utilize high beams whenever possible to increase sight distance. However, keep headlights on low beams when following another vehicle or when encountering oncoming traffic to avoid blinding other drivers.
Don’t “overdrive” your headlights – Most speed limits are set for driving during the day in dry, clear conditions, not for driving at night. You should be able to stop within the distance illuminated by your headlights. Visually scan the entire length of your headlight beam, watching out for possible hazards.
Avoid glare – When faced with headlight glare from oncoming vehicles, decrease your speed and use the right edge of the road as a steering guide to minimize blindness. Adjust your rearview mirror or use the mirror’s “day/night” feature to reduce glare from vehicles behind you.
Reduce your speed and increase your following distance – Carefully manage speed and space to make it easier to spot potential problems and give yourself more time to respond to any weather, road, traffic conditions or vehicle, including bicycles and e-scooters that often do not have lights illuminating them.
Watch for impaired and fatigued drivers – Avoid vehicles that are having difficulty completing normal roadway maneuvers, drifting or otherwise moving erratically as the driver may be drunk, chemically impaired or fatigued.
Take steps to combat fatigue – Be aware of how your body adjusts to the time change in the first few weeks after the clocks are reset. Eat well, stay fit and get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel. Ensure good ventilation inside the vehicle and take regular breaks for light snacks and exercise.
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