A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

End of daylight savings time brings added risks for commuters; prepare for sun glare, reduced visibility

With the end of daylight savings time (DST) Sunday come changes for Monday’s morning and evening commutes. AAA warns drivers to be prepared for sun glare during their morning drive and for reduced visibility on the road during their evening commute.

“Ninety percent of a driver’s reaction time is dependent upon their vision, which is severely limited at night,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, public affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “It’s one of the most challenging times to drive because motorist’s eyes are frequently adjusting to the increasing darkness. Motorists should take night driving safety measures the moment the sun sets – slow down, increase your following distance, and use your headlights to see and be seen.”

AAA recommends wearing high-quality sunglasses and adjusting the car’s sun visors as needed for the morning drive. Late afternoon driving also presents a similar glare problem prior to nightfall, so drivers should take the same precautions. Use of the night setting on rearview mirrors after dark can reduce glare from headlights approaching from the rear.

(NKyTribune file)

The time change can disturb sleep patterns and become a formula for drowsy driving and fatigue-related crashes when combined with the earlier dusk and darkness during the evening commute,.

Sleep-deprived drivers cause traffic crashes that can lead to death and debilitating injuries on American roadways each year. Research by the AAA Foundation estimates that drowsy driving is a factor in an average of 328,000 crashes annually, including 109,000 crashes that result in injuries and 6,400 fatal crashes.

“While many will enjoy an extra hour of sleep this weekend, few commuters and motorists realize the added dangers that can come as the result of a time change – especially when they are behind the wheel,” continued Weaver Hawkins. “Although we gain an hour of sleep, our sleep patterns are disrupted. This can result in drowsy driving episodes and it is unsafe to drive when we are feeling sleepy.”

Symptoms of drowsy driving can include having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes or not remembering the last few miles driven. However, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel.

Motorists are also urged to be more cautious of deer sightings and crashes. November and December are among the most dangerous months of the year for motor vehicle collisions with animals. A collision with a deer or other animal can put a serious dent in your vehicle, if not destroy it completely, and could result in serious injuries or fatalities.

Tips for drivers:

• Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. If you do begin to feel drowsy while driving, pull over immediately and rest. If necessary, call a family member, friend or 911 for assistance.

• Reduce speed and increase following distances.

• If you don’t have automatic running headlights, turn on your headlights to become more visible during early morning and evening hours.

• Keep vehicle headlights and windows (inside and out) clean.

• Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are present.

• Yield the right of way to pedestrians at all times and do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.

• Stop for a school bus with flashing lights and stop arm extended.

Tips for pedestrians and bicyclists:

• Cross only at intersections. Look left, right and left again and only cross when it is clear. Do not jaywalk.

• Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks. If you have to walk on a road that does not have sidewalks, walk facing traffic.

• Evaluate the distance and speed of oncoming traffic before you step out into the street.

• Wear bright colors or reflective clothing if you are walking or biking near traffic at night. Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.

• Avoid distracted walking. This includes looking at your phone or listening to music. If you must listen to music, make sure it is at a low volume so you can hear danger approaching.

• Bicycle lights are a ‘must have’ item for safe night riding, especially during the winter months when it gets dark earlier.

AAA Blue Grass

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