TOWSON, MD (Friday, November 1, 2019) –– As we prepare to turn our clocks back an hour at 2 a.m. this Sunday, with the end of Daylight Saving Time, many may rejoice the extra hour of sleep. However, AAA Mid-Atlantic is reminding drivers to be prepared for potential challenges, such as changes in sleep patterns that may increase chances of drowsy driving and shorter days resulting in driving home in the dark.
Sleep-deprived drivers cause more than 6,400 deaths and 50,000 debilitating injuries on American roadways each year, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).
“While many will enjoy an extra hour of sleep this weekend, few commuters and motorists realize the added dangers that can come as the result of a time change – especially when they are behind the wheel,” said Ragina C. Ali, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Although we gain an hour of sleep, our sleep patterns are disrupted. This can result in unsafe drowsy driving episodes.”
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index data shows that most motorists (96%) identify drowsy driving as very or extremely dangerous. Yet, despite high rates of perceived danger and personal/social disapproval regarding drowsy driving, about 27% of drivers admit to having driven while being so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open, at least once in the past 30 days. Previous research by the AAA Foundation estimates that drowsy driving is a factor in an average of 328,000 crashes annually, including 109,000 crashes that result in injuries and 6,400 fatal crashes.
“Drivers should not rely solely on their bodies to provide warning signs of fatigue and should instead prioritize getting plenty of sleep in their daily schedules and simply be aware that the shorter days this time of year can create more drowsiness behind the wheel,” continued Ali.
AAA Mid-Atlantic Tips for Drivers
Turn on your headlights to become more visible during early morning and evening hours.
Keep vehicle headlights and windows (inside and out) clean.
Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are around.
Yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
AAA Mid-Atlantic Tips for Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Cross only at intersections. Look left, right and left again and only cross when it is clear. Do not jaywalk.
Cross at the corner - not in the middle of the street or between parked cars.
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 or biking near traffic at night. Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
Avoid listening to music or make sure it is at a low volume so you can hear danger approaching.
Bicycle lights are a ‘must have’ item for safe night riding, especially during the winter months when it gets dark earlier.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to over 60 million members nationwide and nearly 988,000 members in Maryland. 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 app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit AAA.com.