The goal of daylight saving time is to make use of more sunlight throughout the changing seasons. This year in 2023, daylight saving time falls on March 12 and November 5. As the clocks were set forward yesterday, most of us are navigating our Monday with an hour less of sleep. With more studies coming out in recent years, many debate the effectiveness of daylight saving time. The disruption of daily routines has been tied to negative health effects such as higher rates of strokes and heart attacks. But what is most concerning in our industry is the increase of daylight savings car crashes.
How Daylight Savings Affects Road Safety
The University of Colorado at Boulder conducted a study analyzing how the “spring forward” to daylight saving time brings a surge in fatal car crashes. After reviewing 732,000 crashes over two decades, researchers found that daylight saving time is associated with a 6% increase in fatal road-related incidents throughout the workweek (following the “spring forward” time change). It also found that the further west a person lives in their time zone, the higher their risk of being in a deadly crash is during that week.
“Prior to 2007, we saw the risk increase in April, and when daylight saving time moved to March, so did the risk increase,” said Celine Vetter, an assistant professor of integrative physiology. “That gave us even more confidence that the risk increase we observe is indeed attributable to the daylight saving time switch, and not something else.”
3 Reasons Why the “Leap Forward” Affects Driving Ability
Losing an hour of sleep creates drowsy drivers. Studies show that driving tired in many ways is the same as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Sleepiness makes drivers less attentive, slows reaction time and can affect a driver’s ability to make good decisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2019, there were 697 deaths reported from drowsy-driving-related crashes.
Driving in the Dark
Outside of being overtired, driving in the dark comes with its own set of risks as well. NHTSA has reported that fatal crashes are three times more likely at night than daytime. For those who aren’t accustomed to driving to work or school in the dark, they must be extra defensive and proactively test all high beams, low beams, daytime running lights, turn signals and brake lights before hitting the road.
Adjusting to a New Schedule
A sudden change in one’s schedule can be stressful. Many may find themselves running late as they adjust to the time change. It’s important to prioritize safety over arriving on time, so driving the speed limit and remaining calm on the road are crucial in avoiding crashes.
How to Ensure Your Drivers Avoid Daylight Savings Car Crashes
Take Frequent Driving Breaks
Make sure that you’re communicating with your drivers that it’s necessary and acceptable to take a break if they’re tired.
Promote planning prior to each drive to ensure your drivers feel well-rested and perform optimally.
Educate About Drowsy Driving Warning Signs
The five most common warning signs when it comes to drowsy driving include:
- Yawning or blinking frequently
- Forgetting the past few miles driven
- Missing an exit
- Drifting in and out of lanes
- Hitting a rumble strip
Caffeine is not a replacement for sleep –it can actually dehydrate your drivers and make them drowsy. The only real solution is proper sleep.
Offer Fleet Driver Training
Driver training educates employees on how to properly combat drowsy driving and adjust to operating a vehicle after the daylight savings time change. Consider offering proactive training, including topics such as fatigue and wellness awareness, fatigue management, night driving and more. Whether your team is made up of commercial drivers or simply employees driving to meet with clients, run errands or grab coffee for the office – it’s your company’s responsibility to ensure drivers are making the right decisions while they’re on the clock.
Start with the Fundamentals of Defensive Driving
As schedule changes, new technologies and other potentially adverse conditions weave their way into everyday life, companies must implement a driver training program that emphasizes modern defensive driving skills. But with so many techniques to cover, where do you start?
Download our helpful checklist and discover the seven fundamentals of defensive driving that every fleet should cover.
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