Spring versus fall
Clocks switch twice a year – in the spring, and again in the fall. That fall time change tends to get a lot of press, and for good reason. Darker afternoons coincide with increased traffic, with many pedestrians and commuters all fighting the good fight to get home. However, springtime changes bring darker mornings, something that presents just as much – if not more – danger on the roads.
No matter what time of year it is, an Onlia survey of drivers found that 76% of respondents want to be better driving in the dark, but noted it was hard to spot pedestrians. Combined with the drowsiness and fatigue of a time change, this disadvantage can be lethal. A bit of preparedness can set you up for a darker commute, giving you better skills behind the wheel.
Science of springing forward
Some researchers have found an increase of collisions immediately following Daylight Saving Time, with varied hypotheses as to why.
As the clocks change overnight between Saturday and Sunday, some scientists think people stay up later Sunday night, making the early Monday morning shock even worse. Other researchers point to the impact that DST has on your circadian rhythm, a type of body clock that correlates to daylight hours. The abrupt loss of an hour disrupts your body, leaving it confused and tired. Some people can muscle through, while others feel more profound impacts on their cognitive function.
Regardless of why you feel drowsy, the impacts are real, particularly on the Monday following DST. Studies have discovered an uptick in the number of automobile incidents and an increase in the number and severity of workplace injuries immediately following the clock change. The loss of sleep may make essential driving tasks, like focusing, difficult. Drivers may feel like their reaction time is longer, leading to poor decisions behind the wheel. Compounded with the potential for a March that still features wintery weather, Daylight Saving Time can make your commute treacherous.