Daylight saving time change can enhance driver fatigue, drowsy driving

According to Virginia Tech Transportation Institute expert Jeff Hickman, daylight saving time change can enhance driver fatigue and drowsiness during driving.

“Any time change can exacerbate drowsiness because your internal clock has not adjusted to the time change. This can lead to disruptions in sleep until your body adjusts, which can take a few days to a week.” says Hickman.

When the clocks move forward on March 10, Americans generally are more sleep deprived and occasionally commuting during morning darkness.

Hickman offers some tips for drivers to avoid fatigue:

1. Avoid driving during rush hour and from 2-4 a.m.

  • Crash risk increases during rush hours and from 2-4 a.m. Driving between 2-4 a.m. is particularly dangerous because a person’s circadian rhythm is at its lowest during this time frame. And when a driver is already sleep-deprived, the desire to sleep during the circadian low is even greater.

2. Get a full night’s sleep.

  • Drivers should try to sleep at least seven to eight hours in order to avoid drowsiness. However, one night’s rest may not be enough for someone who has experienced several sleepless nights. In those cases, the driver will need several days of restful sleep to compensate for the sleep debt.

3. Pay attention to signs of drowsy driving.

  • Signs of drowsy driving include: slow eyelid closures, yawning, gentle swaying of the head, seat fidgeting, difficulty staying in your lane, difficulty maintaining speed, and delayed reactions.

4. Be aware of other factors impacting drowsy driving.

  • Situations that increase drowsiness are driving alone, monotonous road conditions, such as long straightaways with limited changes in the environment), long drives, and extended periods of heavy traffic.
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