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Are You and Your Car Ready for Daylight-Saving Time Change?

Headlights at night

U.S. daylight-saving time will end at 2 a.m. Sunday when clocks are set back one hour.   With the time change and shorter daylight hours, the Automobile Club of Southern California is recommending vehicle owners take the time to restore or replace deteriorated headlight lenses since a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found that cloudy headlight lenses that were restored doubled the maximum light intensity and reduced glare-producing light scatter by 60 percent.  Yet only 20 percent of Americans have performed this service on their vehicles.


The Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center performed the testing for the AAA Foundation study. 


“Now is the time to get your headlight lenses restored or restore them on your own with a do-it-yourself kit found at stores that have an automotive aisle carrying auto supplies,” said the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center Manager Megan McKernan.  “Cloudy or dirty headlight lenses are not just an aesthetic issue.  An annual service of the headlights on older vehicles will increase your nighttime visibility and minimize distracting glare for fellow drivers.”


From cloudy headlight lenses to the body clock, the time change also can cause disturbed sleep patterns in drivers, and when combined with the earlier dusk and darkness during the evening commute, become a formula for drowsy driving, according the Auto Club’s Traffic Safety Manager Anita Lorz Villagrana.


In November 2014 the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found the impact of having drowsy drivers on the road is considerable.  Drowsy drivers are involved in an estimated 21% of fatal crashes, up from 16.5% from the previous 2010 study, as most drivers drift out of their lanes or off the road. Drivers themselves are often crash victims who die in single-car crashes.


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 weeks 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 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 and 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 or walking pets in the dark
  • Walk on the sidewalk.  If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.


For drivers:


  • 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.


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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.