Daylight-saving time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday when clocks will be set back one hour. The time change can cause disturbed sleep patterns, and when combined with the earlier dusk and darkness during the evening commute, become a formula for drowsy driving -- a condition many drivers may be unaware of during the time change, according to Anita Lorz Villagrana, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s manager of community affairs and traffic safety dept.
In California, drivers who were drowsy or fell asleep at the wheel were involved in more than 3,600 crashes in 2010 that led to more than 2,100 deaths and injuries, according to the latest California Highway Patrol statistics analyzed by the Auto Club.
The Auto Club recommends that motorists adjust their driving habits and also watch for children and others outdoors who will be less visible, especially during the first week of the change.
In addition to setting clocks back one hour, motorists should be prepared for reduced visibility on the road. “Drivers can expect reduced visibility because the evening commute time will be darker,” said Lorz Villagrana. “Teen drivers who aren’t as experienced with nighttime driving and motorists with vision issues may need to be especially careful.
“Before the time change, you may need to check to make sure all vehicle lights are working properly. When starting your commute, remember to turn on your headlights and then turn them off when you reach your destination,” Lorz Villagrana said. “In addition, motorists should be prepared to face changed conditions during the morning commute.”
The morning sun may also cause reflections off car windows, hoods or other metallic portions of automobiles and can be a serious hazard to drivers and pedestrians, according to Lorz Villagrana. “The glare may cause temporary blindness. To reduce glare, invest in and wear high-quality sunglasses and adjust your car’s sun visors as needed,” she added.
Late afternoon driving also presents a similar glare problem, so the same recommendations apply. “Drivers can also use the night setting on the rearview mirror to avoid glare from oncoming headlights,” she said.
In addition, children, pedestrians, joggers, walkers and bicyclists likely will continue to be outside but will be a lot less visible during the evening commute. The Auto Club recommends that motorists slow down and be extra alert, particularly in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Motorists should provide bicyclists with a three-foot buffer for safety, according to a recently signed law by Gov. Jerry Brown. It also requires them to slow to a safe and reasonable speed when passing a bicyclist if they can't get three feet away.
The Auto Club recommends the following tips for pedestrian safety:
- 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 at night
- Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark
- Walk on the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
- During rain, drivers are reminded to slow down.
- Drivers should also watch for children and families in neighborhoods and along school bus routes, at intersections, and when backing out of driveways.
- Teen drivers should exercise extra caution.