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Are You Drowsy Or Are You Alert For The Daylight Saving Time Change?


U.S. daylight saving time will end at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, when clocks are set back one hour.   With the time change and shorter daylight hours, the Automobile Club of Southern California is recommending that motorists be aware that the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates indicate, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  

Difficulty in detecting drowsiness following a crash makes drowsy driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues.  The AAA research provides analysis of in-vehicle dashcam footage from more than 700 crashes, confirming that the danger of drowsy driving soars above official estimates. 

“The time change can disturb sleep patterns in drivers, and when combined with the earlier dusk and darkness during the evening commute, can become a formula for drowsy driving,” said the Auto Club’s Traffic Safety Manager Anita Lorz Villagrana.

Common symptoms of drowsy driving include:

  • Having trouble keeping your eyes open
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Not remembering the last few miles driven

The Auto Club urges motorists to get the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended minimum of seven hours daily sleep and adjust their driving habits during the time change.  The CDC says missing just two or three hours of sleep can more than quadruple your risk for a crash, which is the equivalent of driving drunk.  Drivers should also watch out for children and others outdoors who will be less visible during the time change and throughout the darker winter months. 

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,” she said.  “Teen drivers who aren’t as experienced with nighttime driving and motorists with vision issues may need to be especially careful.

“In addition, motorists should be prepared to face changed visibility conditions during the morning commute,” said Lorz Villagrana. 

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 headlights behind them,” 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 taking out pets in the dark
  • Walk on the sidewalk.  If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.

The Auto Club recommends the following tips for drivers:

  • Travel at times of the day when normally awake
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment
  • Don’t drive intexticated or intoxicated
  • Drivers should 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.

Editor’s Note:

B-roll of drowsy drivers:


CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
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.