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AAA has advice for motorists, pedestrians
By AAA of Western and Central New York
It’s time to “spring forward” and set clocks ahead one hour beginning Sunday, March 12, 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, as children and pedestrians take advantage of more daylight.
The difficulty in detecting drowsiness following a crash makes drowsy driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues. Knowing the warning signs can help drivers avoid dozing off behind the wheel.
Common drowsy driving symptoms:
√ Having trouble keeping your eyes open
√ Drifting from your lane
√ Not remembering the last few miles driven
As evenings become brighter with more daylight, children, pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists will likely become more active outdoors.
AAA tips for pedestrians:
√ Dress in reflective clothing and cross 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.
√ Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks. If a sidewalk isn’t available, walk facing traffic.
“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 at AAA Western and Central New York. “This hour change can disturb sleep patterns, perhaps even resulting in drowsy driving, so drivers should adjust their sleep schedule to prevent drowsiness on the road.”
A survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, released in 2021, finds that:
√ Roughly 95% of respondents identify drowsy driving as very or extremely dangerous. About 33% thought drowsy drivers risked being caught by the police.
√ 98% believed that people who were important to them would disapprove of drowsy driving.
√ Despite high rates of respondents’ perceived danger and social disapproval regarding drowsy driving, 17.3% of them admit to having driven while being so tired that they had had a hard time keeping their eyes open at least once in the past 30 days.
Fatigue-related crashes are often caused by voluntarily not getting the sleep you need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most adults need at least seven hours of sleep a day, while teens need at least eight hours.
Tired drivers are not as focused and, while there is more daylight in spring, they are still at risk of being distracted. First responders, construction workers, roadside technicians, and people stranded with a breakdown on the side of the road are vulnerable to drivers who are not paying attention, and are at a greater risk of being hit.
AAA reminds all drivers to “Slow Down, Move Over” when they see a truck or vehicle pulled over on the roadside. To learn more about safe driving instruction, simply go to www.AAA.com/SafeDriving.
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 862,000 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.