VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. (March 11, 2021) - Daylight savings time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 14th, when most U.S. states will ‘spring forward’ one hour. With that change also come changes in sunrise and sunset times that may affect drivers and pedestrians. It also increases the risk of drowsy driving. When the time changes, drivers can expect reduced visibility during the morning commute since sunrise is not until after 7 a.m.
“The early morning drive to work or school will be darker and makes it more difficult to see pedestrians, particularly children,” said Holly Dalby, director of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Drivers should also remember to turn on their headlights and slow down when approaching crosswalks and driving in neighborhoods.”
As more schools in Virginia begin in-person learning, drivers are encouraged to be extra vigilant in areas where children are present, paying particular attention during the morning and afternoon hours while children are coming to and from school.
AAA’s Safety Tips for Pedestrians:
- See and be seen. Wear bright colors or reflective clothing at dusk and at night.
- Pay attention. Put down your cell phone while walking.
- Make eye contact with drivers when crossing streets.
- Walk on the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
AAA’s Tips for Drivers:
- Slow down and watch for children in neighborhoods and along school bus routes, at intersections and when backing out of driveways.
- Always yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
- When approaching a crosswalk, reduce speed and be prepared to stop.
An hour may not seem like much time, but it can throw off your internal clock for a few days. Drivers who have slept for less than five hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk, according to research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Fatigue impairs safe driving and causes drivers to behave in ways like those who are intoxicated,” said Dalby. “Furthermore, drivers who miss one to two hours of sleep can nearly double their crash risk.”
This same AAA Foundation research showed that 96% of drivers view drowsy driving as completely unacceptable and a severe threat to their safety. Still, nearly 29% of those same people admitted to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at least once in the last 30 days.
To Prevent Drowsy Driving:
- Do not rely on your body to provide warning signs for drowsiness. Get at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.
- Travel at times of the day when you are normally awake.
- Avoid eat heavy foods.
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.
While we enthusiastically welcome Daylight Savings Time and the onset of spring, it’s important to not lose sight of safe driving habits. Watch for pedestrians, children playing outside in the evenings and get enough sleep to stay alert.