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AAA: Daylight Saving Time May Make for Drowsy Drivers

Traffic on I-395 (file photo)Daylight Saving Time officially begins at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, when clocks should “spring forward” one hour.

The change will result in an extra hour of daylight in the evening, but will come at the cost of darker mornings and an hour of lost sleep.

AAA Mid-Atlantic warns that the change can leave drivers drowsy on Monday morning. The automobile association issued the following press release, urging drivers to make sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep.

Come Monday morning, many drivers may have lost a spring in their step and may not be fully alert as they travel to work and school.

What’s more, many motorists may now be faced with a darker morning drive or sun glare from a rising, as well as setting sun depending on their commuting times, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic.  Losing an hour of sleep and the change in daylight hours means motorists may potentially experience drowsy driving and added distractions of the road. In addition to the change of daylight, children, pedestrians, joggers, walker, bicyclists  and motorcyclists will likely be more active outdoors. For safety’s sake, it behooves motorists to keep a watchful eye for all highway users as the days become longer.

“Each spring we go through the ritual of setting our clocks forward one hour.  While some believe ‘just an hour’ of lost sleep is not significant, many people, who are already sleep deprived going into the weekend, are more likely to be impaired from an attention and safety standpoint,” said Mahlon G. (Lon) Anderson, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Managing Director of Public and Government Affairs.  “A change in time can affect people physically and drivers can be more tired than they realize.”

To prevent this, AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends people, especially motorists, prepare in advance for the time change by increasing their sleep time in the days ahead and getting a good night’s sleep on Sunday.” An estimated 17 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of crashes resulting in hospitalization, and seven percent of all crashes requiring a tow involve a drowsy driver, according to a 2010 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year.  The actual figure may be higher because police can’t always determine with certainty when driver fatigue results or is a contributory factor in a crash.

“You are getting sleepy, very sleepy.”  AAA Mid-Atlantic advises motorists to make sure they get adequate sleep before getting behind the wheel of their vehicle.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults get 7-9 hours of sleep to maintain proper alertness during the day. Studies show that sleep needs vary by age group.

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