By AAA of Western and Central New York
Americans will “spring forward” and set their clocks ahead one hour beginning at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 8. Losing an hour of sleep and the change in daylight hours means motorists may potentially experience drowsy driving and added distractions behind the wheel.
“While many people are looking forward to the end of winter, few realize the added dangers that can come as a result of a time change, especially when behind the wheel,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations, AAA Western and Central New York. “This hour change can disturb sleep patterns, perhaps even resulting in drowsy driving.”
According to AAA Foundation research:
•Drivers who have slept for less than five hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.
•Drivers who miss one to two hours of sleep can nearly double their risk for a crash.
•While 96% of drivers view drowsy driving as an unacceptable behavior that is a serious threat to their safety, nearly 29% admit to driving so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at least once in the prior 30 days.
•In addition to the change of daylight, children, pedestrians, joggers, walkers and bicyclists will likely become more active outdoors (weather permitting!). AAA advises motorists and pedestrians to remember the following tips to stay safe:
AAA Tips for Motorists
•Do not rely on your bodies to provide warning signs for drowsiness, instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.
•In the early morning, watch out for pedestrians when backing up in parking lots or driveways. Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible.
•Leave more following room. When the sun is in your eyes it can be hard to see what the car ahead is doing.
•Invest in polarized sunglasses – they can help reduce glare.
•Utilize your sun visor, which can help to block out the sun.
•Be mindful of more children and others who are outdoors in the lighter evening hours.
•Remember to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks. Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
•Pay attention and eliminate all distractions, including cell phones and car clocks that are off an hour! Reset the clocks while the vehicle is safely parked, rather than in motion.
AAA Tips for Pedestrians
•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.
•See and be seen. Carry a flashlight and wear reflective clothing and/or accessories.
•While walking, pocket the cell phone and avoid listening to music at a volume that prohibits you from hearing approaching danger.
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.