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AAA: Daylight saving time and loss of hour’s sleep is a ‘heads up’ (literally) for drowsy commuters

With the arrival of daylight saving time and the loss of an hour of sleep this weekend, AAA is reminding drivers to not only to ‘spring forward’ and adjust their clocks Sunday, but also their sleeping habits to avoid drowsy driving.

“Most people will see a dramatic difference during their morning commute starting on Monday, as roadways remain darker later into the morning, causing concern for drivers and pedestrians,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, manager, public and government affairs, AAA Blue Grass.

“Motorists and pedestrians, including school students waiting at bus stops, need to be aware of these dangers, remain alert, and minimize distractions to reduce the risk of vehicle crashes.”

Don’t Be Asleep at the Wheel

Drowsy driving is big traffic safety issue. The National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in 2017, 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers. These crashes led to an estimated 50,000 people injured and nearly 800 deaths nationwide. But there is broad agreement across the traffic safety, sleep science, and public health communities that this is an underestimate of the impact of drowsy driving.
“A change in time can mean that drivers are more tired than they realize,” noted Weaver Hawkins. “Drivers who miss one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash.”

According to AAA Foundation research:

• Drivers who have slept for less than 5 hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.

• Although 96% of drivers view drowsy driving as a completely unacceptable behavior that is a serious threat to their safety, 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:

• Make it a priority to get at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road and not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs for drowsiness.

• Travel at times of the day when they are normally awake.

• Avoid heavy foods.

• Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.

• Use night setting on rearview mirrors (if equipped) to reduce glare from headlights approaching from the rear.

• Improve visibility in the dark by cleaning headlights, taillights, signal lights, and windows, inside and Ensure headlights are properly aimed and kept on low beams, to avoid blinding oncoming drivers.

• Reduce speed and increase following distances because it’s more difficult to judge other vehicles’ speeds and distances in the dark.

• Be mindful of pedestrians and crosswalks, yield the right of way to pedestrians in
crosswalks and do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks. Never pass a school bus with its lights flashing and stop sign extended.

School Safety

Moving clocks ahead one hour means it will be darker in the mornings for the next few weeks.  It is important to remember that children will be on their way to school during this time, so drivers must remain vigilant.

AAA recommends the following:

• Slow Down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.

• Stay Alert. Drivers should always avoid distractions—especially cell phone use—while driving, but the risks of distracted driving are even greater in school zones and residential neighborhoods.

• Headlights. Turn on the vehicle’s daytime running lights or headlights, even during daylight, so children and other drivers can see you more easily. But, don’t forget to turn them off when you reach your destination if your vehicle doesn’t have an “auto” setting that automatically turns off the headlights.

From AAA Blue Grass

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