Officials warn against drowsy driving as time springs forward

With daylight-saving time approaching, AAA warns drivers to plan accordingly for the time change that could leave travelers more tired than usual.

This Sunday time moves forward an hour, taking away an hour of rest for most. Travelers should be mindful of the changes in their sleep pattern as well as the increase in other motorists and pedestrians as the days get longer.

“When the clocks change, sleep cycles are interrupted and drivers can be more tired than they realize,” said AAA Senior Specialist Kara Hitchens in a statement. “Losing one hour of sleep takes an adjustment and motorists need to prepare by getting more rest, especially on Sunday.”

Car crashes were down nearly 24% in 2020 compared to 2019. This is likely a result of the stay-at-home orders to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“There is an increase, usually a 6% increase after a time change, in fatal crashes. And that is the week following the time change, which results in about 28 fatality crashes a year just after a time change,” said Patrick Brown, AAA Driving School supervisor.

Car crashes as a result of lack of sleep or drowsiness are underreported, Brown said.

The number of crashes due to drowsiness is almost eight times higher than the federal estimate, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Drivers should also be aware of more pedestrians as the weather breaks and the sunlight lasts longer bringing more people outdoors.

“For pedestrians, we ask you to use the crosswalks appropriately and use them when the sign says to go. If you’re in a vehicle watch out for pedestrians,” said Sgt. Gordon Cairns, Dayton Police Department Traffic Unit supervisor. “Last year we had nine fatalities involving pedestrians and this year we obviously want to reduce that number to zero.”

There is also an expected increase in the number of other motorists on the road.

“We want to remind people if you are on a motorcycle to watch out for vehicles, and if you’re in a vehicle to just watch out for those motorcycles. Last year we did have four motorcycle fatalities in the city and obviously we want to reduce that number,” said Cairns.

AAA suggests travelers drive during times they would normally be awake, avoid eating large meals and taking medications that could cause drowsiness, and wearing sunglasses to keep the eyes from tiring due to sun glare. Brown said the only real remedy to drowsy driving is sleep.

“Drinking coffee doesn’t necessarily sustain you from falling asleep, neither does loud music or cold air when you roll your window down. Your body, once it gets tired, it’s going to be tired and the only way to re-energize is to take a quick nap,” he said.

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