AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning drivers to be extra mindful on Monday after Daylight Saving Time kicks in.
The annual scheduled clock hopping is happening on Sunday (March 11), “springing forward” an hour starting at 2 a.m.
Only 31.9 percent of Washingtonians get seven hours of sleep per night, according to AAA, and it can take two weeks for the body to adjust to the time turning.
Even losing one hour’s sleep can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm enough to cause damage. Health risks include strokes, heart attacks, obesity, diabetes, and workplace- or traffic-related accidents.
Drowsy driving in particular is a concern in AAA’s eyes citing the “major threat on area roadways Monday” morning and calling it “one of the most underreported traffic safety issues.”
The automotive organization’s warning points to its own drowsy driving research.
Remarkably, the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates indicate, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The difficulty in detecting drowsiness following a crash makes drowsy driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues. The new research provides an unprecedented analysis of in-vehicle dashcam video from more than 700 crashes, confirming that the danger of drowsy driving soars above official estimates. This weekend, millions of drivers will have difficulty springing forward. Come Monday, the prevalence of short sleep will loom large.
In the study, researchers examined video of drivers’ faces in the three minutes leading up to a crash.
Using a scientific measure linking the percentage of time a person’s eyes are closed to their level of drowsiness, the researchers determined that 9.5 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of crashes resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness. Federal estimates indicate drowsiness is a factor in only one to two percent of crashes.
Even so, 35 percent of drivers in the United States sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In a recent related AAA Foundation survey, nearly all drivers (96 percent) say they view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior. However, 29 percent admitted to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at some point in the past month.
Drowsy driving warning signs include struggling to keep your eyes open, lane drifting, and not remembering the last few miles driven.
To avoid drowsy driving, AAA recommends drivers travel when they normally would travel, avoid heavy foods and other sleep-inducing medications, and, for longer trips, schedule breaks every two hours for every 100 miles driven with an alert passenger who can take turns driving.
Photo via Flickr/David Giambarresi
Arlington Heights Gets New Stop Sign — “The Arlington Heights neighborhood became a safer place for students and other pedestrians on Oct. 30,” after the neighborhood got a new all-way stop sign at the intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Irving Street. Residents collected some 500 petition signatures in support of adding the stop sign. [InsideNova]
Reminder: Daylight Saving Time — Early Sunday morning is the time to “fall back” as Daylight Saving Time ends and clocks get set back an hour. [USA Today]
Clean Air in N. Va. — “This past summer’s air was among the healthiest in memory across the commonwealth. The summer months were the cleanest in terms of ground-level ozone in at least 20 years, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality reported on Oct. 31.” [InsideNova]
The annual autumnal time change is associated primarily with earlier sunsets, but fatigue due to disrupted sleep patterns is another side effect.
Between darkness suddenly occurring during the duration of the evening rush hour, and bleary-eyed drivers, the time change can actually be a safety hazard on the roads.
AAA Mid-Atlantic this week issued a lengthy press release that included the following tips to stay safe over the next couple of days.
Time shift safety tips for pedestrians:
- See and be seen – drivers need to see you to avoid you.
- Make eye contact with drivers when crossing streets.
- Wear bright colors or reflective clothing and/or accessories at night.
- Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
- Cross only at intersections or crosswalks. Look left, right and left again and only cross when it is clear.
- Do not jaywalk or cross between parked cars.
- Evaluate the distance and speed of oncoming traffic before you step out into the street.
- 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.
- Do not let umbrellas or jacket hoods block your view of approaching traffic.
- While walking, pocket the cell phone and avoid listening to your music player at a volume that prohibits you from hearing approaching danger.
Time change tips for drivers:
- Pay attention and eliminate all distractions including cell phones and car clocks that are off an hour!
- Remember to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks. Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
- Watch for children and families in neighborhoods and along school bus routes, at intersections, and when backing out of driveways.
- Turn on your headlights. Make yourself 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.
- Teen drivers should exercise extra caution.
- Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out ones. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
- Slow down during rain and fog.
The rest of the press release, after the jump.
AAA Mid-Atlantic says losing an hour of sleep Sunday morning could produce more drowsy driving all week.
The organization issued the following press release on Friday.
Wake up sleepyhead. Blame it on old Benjamin Franklin. The sleepiness begins again at 2 a.m. this coming Sunday. The time shift in the wee hours can break the sleep cycle and the “grogginess can persist all day” in a nation that already doesn’t get adequate sleep. Insomnia is deadly behind the wheel. Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (32 percent) confessed they were so tired they drove drowsy during the previous 30 days, according to the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The number of nodding drivers on the road might increase during next Monday’s commute times, the day after the biannual transition to and from Daylight Saving Time.
The “first six days of daylight saving time can prove dangerous for drivers and other highway users,” some research suggests. However, other researchers say their studies demonstrated “that transitions into and out of daylight saving time did not increase the number of traffic road accidents.”
“The shift in time can engender a shift in circadian rhythm. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk, and it can be just as dangerous, research shows. Too many people drive under the influence of sleep,” said Tom Calcagni, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Director of Public and Government Affairs.
Historical Society Requests Heritage Center — The Arlington Historical Society formally requested including a heritage center in the the plan for redeveloping the Courthouse Square area. The organization said it could assist with developing such a facility, but could not foot the bill entirely on its own. [InsideNova]
Wizards’ Marcin Gortat Buys $1.6M Home in Arlington — Washington Wizards player Marcin Gortat has purchased one of the most expensive homes on the market in Arlington. He bought the 5-bedroom, 5.5-bathroom home for $1.6 million. The 4,008 square foot new house on N. Quebec Street should have plenty of room for the 6’11” Gortat. [Curbed DC]
County Responds to Streetcar Criticism — The county has made a website addressing a number of concerns raised about the streetcar project, particularly how to avoid problems being experienced by the D.C. streetcar on H Street. The website lists its plans to alleviate some of the problems, like keeping traffic moving, while calling this “an opportunity for us to learn best practices.” [Arlington County]
Free Halloween Taxi Rides from SoberRide — The Washington Regional Alcohol Program’s 2014 SoberRide service is available tonight. Anyone enjoying some adult beverages can get a free taxi, up to a $30 fare, instead of trying to drive home. SoberRide begins today at 10:00 p.m. and runs through 4:00 a.m. Saturday. Call 1-800-200-TAXI. [Washington Regional Alcohol Program]
Daylight Saving Time Ends — Remember to set your clocks back one hour this weekend. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday. It’s also a good time to test your smoke detector.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
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.
Daylight Saving Time Ends Sunday — Be sure to set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, meaning an extra hour of sleep but one fewer hour of daylight at night. The changing of the clocks is also a good time to replace smoke alarm batteries.
Dems Worry About Libertarian’s Impact on Gov. Race — Historically, polls overestimate the potential votes for third party candidates because voters who might have expressed support for a third party in a poll end up choosing one of the major party candidates in the voting booth. Arlington Democrats worry that Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli is thin enough that supporters of Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis may tip the election on Nov. 5 if they break for Cuccinelli. [Sun Gazette]
Blue, Orange Line Work This Weekend — Trains on the Blue and Orange Line will run every 15 minutes this weekend due to scheduled track work. [WMATA]
Arlington Education Company Cutting Jobs — Arlington-based Strayer Education is cutting its workforce by 20 percent and closing some of its Strayer University campuses. Students enrollment is down 17 percent. [Washington Business Journal]
Spring Forward This Weekend — Daylight Saving Time starts this weekend. Clocks should “spring forward” one hour at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday. [Yahoo]
Condo Residents Still Oppose Homeless Shelter — Arlington County has failed to allay the fears of Woodbury Heights Condominium residents, who still oppose the opening of a new year-round homeless shelter on their block in Courthouse. A vocal group of residents spoke out at an Arlington Planning Commission meeting last night. [Patch]
Fiorina to Participate in AED Event — Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina has just been added to a panel discussion of “empathy in business,” organized by Arlington Economic Development and George Mason University. The event is taking place from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 14 at Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd). [Arlington Economic Development]
Flickr pool photo by Sunday Money
As Arlington residents “fall back,” fire departments across the country are reminding folks that it’s also a good time to replace smoke alarm batteries. The Arlington County Fire Department offers free smoke alarms for those who need them; call 703-228-4646 for more information.
While we’ll get an extra hour of sleep this weekend, the time change also means that it will be dark an hour earlier.
All things considered, how do you feel about the end of Daylight Saving Time this weekend?
Flickr pool photo by Mnemosyne2009
Daylight Saving Time Begins This Weekend — Daylight Saving Time will begin at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 11. Clocks should be moved ahead one hour before going to bed Saturday night. The start of Daylight Saving Time is also commonly cited as a good time to replace the batteries in smoke detectors.
Artistic Fence Coming to Water Treatment Plant — The County Board is expected to approve a $350,000 contract for an artist to build a 1,600 foot fence around the water treatment plant on S. Glebe Road. The fence, a functional work of art, “redefines the traditional purpose of a fence,” according to county staff. [Sun Gazette]
Hummus Happy Hour at Lebanese Taverna — Local restaurant chain Lebanese Taverna just launched a $5 “bottomless hommos” happy hour. The deal, which runs from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays, is available at the company’s Pentagon Row and Westover restaurants, in addition to several other locations. [Facebook]
Oyster Happy Hour at Restaurant 3 — Clarendon’s Restaurant 3 (2950 Clarendon Blvd) has introduced a “local oyster happy hour” on Sundays. The eatery is offering discounted Maryland and Virginia oysters, $9 fried oyster sliders, $7 oyster shooters and $3 beer specials from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. every Sunday. [Rrestaurant 3]
On Sunday at 2:00 a.m., clocks will “fall back” to 1:00 a.m. The time shift will give bar-goers an extra hour of partying, will give others an extra hour of sleep, and will force Metro to stay open an extra hour.
Daylight Saving Time was originally created in order to save energy and to reduce the number of daylight hours people wasted by sleeping through in the summer. While popular with folks who work from 9-5 and who don’t like leaving work at dusk (the sun will set at 5:02 p.m. on Monday, and days will continue getting shorter until the winter solstice on Dec. 22), farmers, who have to wake up especially early during the summer growing season, typically oppose Daylight Saving Time.
This year, citing the stress and depression that occurs for some when when it gets darker earlier, Russia decided to ignore agricultural concerns and stay permanently in Daylight Saving Time (or “summertime,” as the British call it).
Should the U.S. consider doing the same?
Flickr pool by Mnemosyne2009
Most people won’t have a problem remembering to “spring forward” by setting clocks ahead by one hour Saturday night. After all, computers, cell phones and cable boxes adjust for daylight saving time automatically.
What cell phones and computers won’t do for you is change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Luckily, fire departments across the country are reminding residents to do just that.
Arlington County recommends that residents test smoke detectors monthly and replace smoke detector batteries at least once a year. Typically, batteries are changed when the clocks change in the spring or the fall. If you didn’t replace your batteries in the fall, you’ll want to do it now.
“Check the smoke detectors in your house and change the battery… just to play it safe,” said Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Ed Hughes.
Hughes added that there should be a smoke detector on each level of the home, including the sleeping areas. See more smoke detector safety tips here. If you don’t have a smoke detector and you feel you can’t afford one, Arlington County offers free smoke detectors to residents who fill out this form.
We spotted this big flock of birds flying north, in formation, over Arlington and the District. It’s a sure sign that spring is just around the corner.
The official start of spring, by the way, is March 20. And don’t forget to set the clocks forward an hour this weekend. Daylight Savings Time starts in the wee hours of this coming Sunday, March 14.