SUBMITTED BY AAA COLORADO
The end of Daylight Saving Time brings with it much more than just an extra hour of sleep this past Sunday. In fact, the seasonal shift in our sleep patterns, combined with new lighting conditions during morning and evening commutes, significantly increase the risk of a car crash for several weeks following the switchover.
“Shorter days mean many of us will commute home from work in the dark,” said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. “That’s a problem, in part, because we’ve gotten used to nearly eight months of daylight during the evening commute. That all changes now. Sunset is one of the most challenging times to drive, as your eyes must frequently adjust to increasing darkness.”
AAA recommends that motorists prepare for night driving by reducing speed and increasing following distances, ensuring that headlights and taillights are operational, and getting plenty of rest before driving.
Behavioral Changes Increase Risk
Paradoxically, even though we should be gaining an hour of sleep, the disruption to our sleep patterns helps drive fatigue-related crashes.
Researchers at Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University, in partnership with the Insurance Bureau of British Columbia, found that changes in motorist behavior as Daylight Saving Time ends fundamentally increase crashes following the time change. Why? Initially, people stay up later than usual, anticipating they’ll get an extra hour of sleep, and end up driving drowsy. The broader disruption to our body’s sleep/wake cycle and circadian rhythm, meanwhile, can last up to two weeks.
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