Lost hour of sleep can create drowsy drivers
March 07. 2014 9:51AM
The winter weary will undoubtedly welcome a much anticipated sign of spring this weekend when we spring the clocks forward. Daylight Saving Time officially begins at 2 a.m. this Sunday, losing an hour of daylight in the morning in exchange for an extra hour of daylight in the evening.
However, this Monday morning many drivers will have lost a spring in their step and not be fully alert as they travel to work and school in the dark. In South Dakota, the sun will arise at about 7:50 a.m. this Monday and will not set until about 7:30 p.m.
“A change in time can affect people physically and drivers can be more tired than they realize,” said Marilyn Buskohl, spokeswoman for AAA South Dakota. “That lost hour of sleep can be a big deal, especially if we’ve been short on sleep over the weekend. Motorists need to prepare in advance for the time change by increasing sleep time in the days ahead and getting a good night’s sleep on Sunday.”
An estimated 17 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of crashes resulting in hospitalization, and 7 percent of all crashes requiring a tow involve a drowsy driver, according to a 2010 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year. The actual figure may be higher because police can’t always determine with certainty when driver fatigue results or is a factor in a crash.
Plus, that extra hour of daylight in the afternoon means children, runners, cyclists and others will be out on the streets later. Slow down, pay attention and eliminate all distractions, and watch out for pedestrians when backing up in parking lots or out of driveways. It’s also a good idea to turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible during early morning and evening hours.