PHILADELPHIA, PA (March 12, 2021) ––The arrival of Daylight Saving Time this weekend means one less hour of sleep and the potential for more sleepy drivers on the road. AAA is reminding drivers to adjust their clocks and sleeping habits to make sure they are alert behind the wheel. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates. The difficulty in detecting drowsiness following a crash makes drowsy driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues.
“When the clocks change, sleep cycles are interrupted and drivers can be more tired than they realize,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Losing one hour of sleep takes an adjustment and motorists need to prepare by getting more rest, especially on Sunday.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35% of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily. In AAA’s study, nearly all drivers (96%) say they view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior. However, 29% admitted to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at some point in the previous month before the survey.
“As many Americans struggle to balance their busy schedules, missing a few hours of sleep each day can often seem harmless,” added Tidwell. “Missing just two to three hours of sleep can more than quadruple your risk for a crash, which is the equivalent of driving drunk.”
In 2019, PennDOT reported that 2,509 crashes and 12 fatalities were attributed to a drowsy driver.
Knowing the warning signs of drowsiness can help drivers avoid dozing off behind the wheel. The most common symptoms include:
- Having trouble keeping your eyes open
- Drifting from your lane
- Not remembering the last few miles driven
Drivers however should not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs for drowsiness and should instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.
AAA Tips for Drivers
- Slow down, pay attention and eliminate all distractions.
- Watch out for pedestrians when backing up in parking lots or driveways.
- Keep vehicle headlights and windows (inside and out) clean.
- Sun glare can make it difficult to see so:
- increase your following distance from the vehicle ahead of you;
- utilize your sun visor and invest in polarized sunglasses, as both can help reduce glare.
- Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible during early morning and evening hours.
- Watch the high beams. Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are around.
- Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
The other issue increasing risk with the time change is darkness. The Monday morning drive, and the morning drive for several weeks to come, will be much darker than what drivers are used to, a serious concern because 76 percent of pedestrian fatalities happen when it’s dark, according to findings from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released in February 2020.
AAA Tips for Pedestrians
- Cross at intersections or crosswalks - not in the middle of the street or between parked cars. Do not jaywalk.
- Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks. If you have to walk on a road that does not have sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
- Evaluate the distance and speed of oncoming traffic before you step out into the street.
- Wear bright colors or reflective clothing if you are walking near traffic at dawn, dusk and night. Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
- Allow extra time and distance for a vehicle to stop in inclement weather.
- While walking, pocket the cell phone and avoid listening to music/audio player at a volume that prohibits you from hearing approaching danger.
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and more than 3.2 million members in Pennsylvania. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile appss for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.