Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time
Each year on the second Sunday of March a majority of clocks in the United States “spring forward” one hour in observance of Daylight Saving Time. The purpose? To make better use of our daylight hours.
Longer Light in the Evenings
When we adjust our clocks during the summer months, we shift an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening, which is when Americans are most active. Since 50% of all automobile crashes occur during the night, adding another hour of daylight can be helpful. Unfortunately, the positive impacts aren’t always immediately felt. Moving the clock forward means less daylight during morning commutes, which can cause complications for drivers.
As our mornings become lighter, drivers and pedestrians grown accustom to a certain amount of light and visibility every day. The sudden shift in light for the few weeks following Daylight Saving Time change won’t magically cause cars to slow down or make pedestrians pay extra attention.
Instead, everyone needs to be intentional about their morning commutes and routines, especially if you live on or near a school route where children are waiting for the bus, getting in and out of cars, or crossing the roadways.
Tips for Your Morning Commute
In order to remain vigilant and keep drivers, pedestrians, and students safe, AAA recommends:
Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster. These speeds apply to all pedestrians and bikers, not just children in school zones.
Turn the headlights on.
Turn on the vehicle’s daytime running lights or headlights, even during the day when you think it might be light enough outside, so children, pedestrians, and other drivers can see you easily. This is especially important the week following the Daylight Saving Time change.
Drivers should always avoid distractions, but it’s particularly important in school zones, residential neighborhoods, and high foot-traffic areas. Reminder: Minnesota is a hands-free state.
Another major complication of Daylight Saving Time is drowsy driving. A key component for staying alert is getting enough sleep every night. According to AAA Foundation research, drivers who have slept for less than 5 hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk. Additionally, missing just one or two hours of sleep nearly doubles the risk for a crash.
Instead of assuming you will be fine driving drowsy, prepare for the time shift by prioritizing at least 7 hours of sleep a night, even if it means going to bed a little earlier for a few days. If you don’t currently get 7 hours of sleep a night, start a new routine that helps ensure you are safe, alert, and awake for your morning commute, so you can spend your evenings soaking up the sun.