As if navigating slick, icy roads weren’t challenging enough, here comes the one-two punch of spring: The Spring Equinox and Time Change. On Sunday, March 8 Daylight Saving Time begins in most of Canada; Saskatchewan and parts of British Columbia can carry on as usual.
With time change and more hours of daylight come drowsy drivers and groggy pedestrians who are adjusting to the new time. In fact, CBC News reported that Manitoba Public Insurance logged 300 collisions on the Monday following spring time change in 2014 compared to an average of 248 for all the other Mondays in 2014. That’s an increase of 21 percent.
Drowsiness is just one factor. Darkness and behaviour may also factor into these accidents. In 2007, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that daylight time significantly affected the number of pedestrians killed by vehicles in the immediate aftermath of the time switch in the fall. They concluded it wasn’t necessarily darkness that lead to the increase in fatalities, rather that drivers and pedestrians spent the previous months growing accustomed to the light conditions and didn’t adjust their behaviour to account for less light during rush hour.
Tips for coping with the spring and fall time changes.
- Get adequate rest.
Some sleep experts recommend going to bed a bit earlier each night and waking up a bit earlier each morning the week before spring time change to ease your body and internal clock into the time change. If you have five nights to adjust, go to bed 10 minutes earlier each night. If you only have 2 nights, go to bed 30 minutes earlier on Friday night, and an hour earlier on Saturday night. Just make sure you wake up 30 minutes earlier on Saturday morning.
- Enjoy the morning sunlight
Sunlight is nature’s alarm clock. Getting early morning sun will let your body do much of the hard work of waking for you. Conversely, darkness triggers sleep, so keep these things in mind when preparing for time change.
- Give yourself more time and space
In the spring, you may find yourself driving to work in pre-dawn light. Give yourself a little more time to get where you need to go. Here’s a tip: If you have to be someplace at 8 a.m., tell yourself you need to be there at 7:45 a.m. This gives you a 15 minute margin of error rather than a one minute margin of error. Be sure to leave at least 2 seconds between your vehicle and the car in front of you so you have adequate time to stop abruptly. Keep in mind, even if you’re wide awake and alert, the other drivers sharing the road may not be.
- Avoid driving drowsy
Your loved ones would rather you arrive alive than beat the clock. If you can’t seem to recall the last stretch of road, if your head is bobbing, if your eyes are watery or dry, if you’re blinking, yawning, or feeling fuzzy headed, pull over. Call your destination and tell them you’ve been delayed.
Hopefully your favorite coffee shop is nearby, because you should get out of your car, walk into that establishment, and buy a cup of caffeine-laden coffee. It takes about 20 minutes for the caffeine to kick in, so take a brief nap in your car during that time, and then determine if you’re alert enough to drive onto your destination.
Daylight Saving Time is here, which means spring and warmer weather can’t be too far off. Let’s be careful out there so we can all enjoy it together.
#DaylightSavingTime #DST #DrowsyDriving #ArriveAlive