The end of day light savings time means it gets darker earlier, so many of us will likely be driving home in the dark after work. Between the time change and the decreased night visibility, this time of year is considered one of the more dangerous times of year to drive. The National Safety Council reported that fatal crashes are three times more likely to occur at night than during the day light hours due to the decreased visibility.  

Our bodies have their own natural clocks. It may be early, but if it is dark outside, our bodies may think it is bed time regardless of the actual time displayed on a clock. The first few days driving home after the time change is the hardest. It is no surprise that Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, which occurs from November 5 through November 12,  2017, corresponds with the time change.

Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, director of Northwestern Memorial’s Sleep Disorders Center advised, “There is a significant increase in the number of car accidents in the days following the end of Daylight Savings Time (DST), which many attribute to lack of alertness from insufficient sleep.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that the change in lighting could affect your familiarity with your daily commute and that the time change affects our sleep patterns. They further warn that a loss of sleep can affect driver attention and fatigue; therefore, they recommend getting plenty of rest.

To help make your daily commute a little safer during the adjustment period followed by the end of daylight savings time, here are 8 tips for safe driving after we “fall back.”

  1. Prepare for the extra night time driving.
    Make sure your headlights and taillights and your windshields and mirrors are clean and clear, so you can see and be seen by other vehicles.
  2. Make sure your headlights are aimed correctly.
    Your headlight angles can be adjusted so make sure they are aimed appropriately for optimum visibility.
  3. Rest.
    If you feel yourself getting drowsy, pull over and get some rest rather than continuing to drive while drowsy.
  4. Put together an emergency car care kit and keep it in your trunk. 
    Include jumper cables, flares or triangles, flash lights and batteries, water bottles and snacks, warm clothes and a blanket, and sand or cat litter. You never know if you will get stranded or for how long.
  5. Exercise.
    Exercise can increase your alertness and help combat some of that drowsiness. It is easy to sluggish during the colder months so a little exercise can help boost your metabolism and help you stay alert.
  6. Put down the phone; Avoid distractions.
    Visibility is already decreased due to the darkness resulting in compromised night vision, so we don’t need anything else affecting our ability to focus on the road and be aware of our surroundings.
  7. Slow Down.
    Drowsiness and fatigue equals slower reaction time so drive a little slower while your body is adjusting to the time change.
  8. Maintain a little extra space between you and vehicle in the front of you.
    Again, driving while drowsy and/or fatigued will result in slower reaction time so give yourself a little more space than usual until your body adjusts to the time change.

Castle Law Office of Kansas City reminds you to stay alert, stay awake, and stay safe now and all year long. 

Jason C. Amerine
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President and Owner, Castle Law Office of Kansas City
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