Driving Dangers and Daylight Savings Time Changes

Driving Dangers and Daylight Savings Time Changes

by / Friday, 29 October 2021 / Published in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Cars drive on a road at dusk with headlights on.

The changes that come with daylight savings time aren’t always easy for people to adjust to. Time changes can be very difficult for some people to adjust to since they can interfere with their sleep cycles. And when people aren’t sleeping well, it can cause more serious problems than simply having a hard time concentrating at work or school the next day — it can also put them at a higher risk of getting into a car accident because of drowsy driving.

The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Driving a car while fatigued can make it three times more likely that you will be involved in a car accident. The effects of drowsy driving are often comparable to the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol, such as slowing down driver reaction times and making it more difficult to pay attention to surroundings. In fact, it’s estimated that going 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a BAC of 0.8%. Simply dozing off behind the wheel for a few seconds is all it takes for someone to veer off the road or run into another vehicle. 

It’s difficult to know exactly how many car accidents each year are caused by drowsy driving. Unlike drunk driving, drowsy driving isn’t something police officers are able to test for at the scene of an accident using a screening device like a breathalyzer. And if a car accident is caused by drowsy driving, the driver might underestimate the role being drowsy had in the accident. In the NHTSA’s 2015 report on drowsy driving, they cite drowsy driving as being responsible for about 90,000 car accidents nationwide that year, accounting for 1.4% of all fatal car crashes. However, other studies, such as a 2018 study by AAA, suggest that the true number may be much larger. 

Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving

Even though many people know that drowsy driving is dangerous, people very often drive while feeling fatigued. If you experience any of the following while you’re behind the wheel, it’s a very good idea to find a safe place to stop and get some rest:

  • Frequent yawning
  • Having difficulty keeping your eyes open
  • You’ve missed a turn or exit
  • You catch yourself drifting out of your lane
  • You can’t remember the last few miles you’ve driven

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving

The best way to prevent drowsy driving is by making sure you get a good night of sleep, but it’s not the only way. Don’t forget that certain medications have the potential to make people feel drowsy. If you take any medication, even if it’s over the counter, make sure it won’t interfere with your ability to drive safely. 

If you’ll be driving for an extended amount of time, be sure to plan ahead for time to rest. This can mean breaking a long trip up into smaller segments so that you have a place to stop for the night or taking regular breaks to rest along the way. Drinking caffeine can help, but it’s not always a surefire method of staying awake. 

Other Daylight Savings Driving Safety Tips

While drowsy driving is a serious road safety issue around daylight savings time, there are other safety issues to think about as well. For example, the changes in daylight might mean that you suddenly have a lot more glare to deal with during your commute. Make sure you’re prepared with things like sunglasses and visors in your car to help block the sun when necessary. 

It’s also a good idea to make sure your headlights and other signal lights are in good working order and can clearly be seen by other drivers on the road. While you’re checking your car over, make sure you have plenty of windshield wiper fluid and that your wiper blades are in good shape. Whether it’s spring or fall, rain is common during those times of year so you need to make sure your windshield wipers will do an effective job of keeping your view clear. 

Last, but certainly not least, be extra watchful for pedestrians, motorcycles, and bicyclists. It may get dark earlier after the fall time change, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that pedestrians and cyclists won’t be out and about after the sun goes down. 

Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer

Being injured in a car accident can be absolutely devastating, no matter what time of year the crash occurs. If you’ve been injured, one of the best things you can do is contact a car accident lawyer so that you have someone on your side who can help protect your best interests. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you can talk to a lawyer experienced in handling Michigan car accident cases who can help answer your questions and work with you to move forward with your case. Contact us today to get started.

Image: iStock / Montypeter

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