AAA has advice for motorists, pedestrians, and a free app to help
By AAA of Western and Central New York
Americans will “spring forward” and set their clocks ahead one hour beginning Sunday, March 14, at 2 a.m. Losing an hour of sleep and the change in daylight hours means motorists may potentially experience drowsy driving and added distractions behind the wheel.
Top 4 Precautions Drivers Should be Mindful of:
√ Drowsy driving
√ Kids walking home from school or playing outside
√ Frosted headlights
√ Vehicle recalls (free app to help below)
1) Drowsy driving: Don't be asleep at the wheel. Drowsy driving is a significant traffic safety issue. Americans "springing forward" by moving their clocks ahead by one hour need to remember to adjust their sleep schedule to prevent drowsiness on the road.
“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 for AAA Western and Central New York. “This hour change can disturb sleep patterns, perhaps even resulting in drowsy driving.”
According to the 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.
As we welcome more daylight in the evening, children, pedestrians, joggers, walkers and bicyclists will likely become more active outdoors – weather permitting!
2) School zones: Look out for children who may potentially dart out into the street, particularly while driving in school zones, approaching school buses that are loading or unloading children, or in neighborhoods where children are studying virtually from home. Kids are often unable to judge traffic situations accurately.
Following the practices below will help to keep your drive and children safe:
√ Slow down in or near school and residential areas.
√ Look for clues such as AAA School Safety Patrol members, crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds, indicating children could be in the area.
√ Scan between parked cars – children could dart into the road.
√ Always stop for school buses that are loading or unloading students.
Remember, “School's Open – Drive Carefully.”
3) Frosted headlights: As we spring ahead, mornings will be darker longer, which can make it harder to see when driving. Lack of visibility can make for unsafe driving conditions. As we adjust to daylight saving time, it's a good time to check the condition of your headlights.
With 50% of crashes occurring at night, drivers should check their headlights for signs of aging (cloudiness, yellowing) and invest in new headlights or, at a minimum, visit your local repair shop to have your headlights restored. Headlights typically deteriorate in three to five years.
AAA suggests drivers check their headlights for changes in appearance, such as yellowing or clouding. If the bulb is difficult to see, it is time to have the lens replaced or restored as soon as possible.
√ Replacement and restoration services are available at most repair shops, including AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities.
√ Do-it-yourself restoration offers some savings for consumers, is relatively simple, and provides a sufficient light output improvement.
4) Check for vehicle recalls (free app): The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall app makes checking vehicles for safety recalls easier with the new SaferCar free smartphone app, allowing drivers to park their cars in a "virtual garage" and immediately be alerted when a recall is issued. The SaferCar app enables users to receive recall notices for car seats, tires, trailers, trucks, vans, and motorcycles.
AAA tips for motorists and pedestrians to stay safe:
√ 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.
√ 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.
√ 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.