Spring Forward and Stay Alert at the Wheel

 Spring Forward and Stay Alert at the Wheel
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For many, the arrival of Daylight Saving Time signals that spring sunshine is just around the corner. But the time change can also forecast an increase in the risk of a crash, AAA warns.

Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 13, and AAA is reminding drivers that the change in daylight hours may create additional distractions on the roadways, and challenges for drivers who’ve lost an hour of sleep, and perhaps are not sleeping as well due to the time change.

“As we spring forward, drivers should be aware that the time change will also mean changes to driving habits. Some drivers may suddenly find themselves driving into the rising or setting sun and there may be more sun glare during commuting hours,” said AAA Northeast Senior Manager of Public Affairs Diana Gugliotta. “Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that drowsy driving is a factor in 10 percent of crashes, and many drivers will have to adjust to getting less sleep during the week following the time change.”

As the days become longer, more children, pedestrians, joggers, walkers and bicyclists will likely be more active outdoors and during peak travel times. AAA reminds motorists and pedestrians to remember the following tips to stay safe:

Tips for Motorists

  • In the morning, watch for pedestrians when backing up in parking lots or driveways. Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible.
  • Leave more following distance. When the sun is in your eyes it can be hard to see what the car ahead is doing.
  • Watch out for children and others who are outdoors in the lighter evening hours.
  • Remember to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks. Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.


Tips for Pedestrians

  • Cross only at intersections or crosswalks. Do not jaywalk or cross between parked cars.
  • Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks. If you must walk on a road that does not have sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
  • See and be seen. Carry a flashlight and wear reflective clothing and/or accessories.
  • Don’t walk and text. If you must use your cell phone, be sure to keep your eyes on traffic and your ears open to make sure you can hear approaching danger.

Drowsy Driving

Don’t Be Asleep at the Wheel:  Drowsy driving is a big traffic safety issue.  Americans “springing forward” by moving their clocks ahead by one hour need to remember to also adjust their sleep schedule to prevent drowsiness on the road.

  • According to AAA Foundation research:
    • Drivers who have slept for less than 5 hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.
    • Drivers who miss one to two hours of sleep can nearly double their risk for a crash.
    • 96% of drivers view drowsy driving as a completely unacceptable behavior that is a serious threat to their safety, but nearly 29% admit to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at least once in the prior 30 days.
  • AAA recommends that drivers:
    • Should not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs for drowsiness and should instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.
    • Travel at times of the day when they are normally awake.
    • Avoid heavy foods.
    • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.

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