Drowsy driving, or driver fatigue, is an unfortunately common occurrence on roadways around the world. In the United States, it accounts for over 91,000 crashes each year, resulting in 50,000 injuries and 800 deaths. However, it is also one of the most preventable causes of accidents. But what if external factors are playing a bigger role than expected?
Various research shows that different aspects of wintertime can affect the likelihood of driver fatigue, namely Daylight Savings Time. Read on to learn more.
Daylight Savings Time Increases Driver Fatigue
Whether you are springing forward or falling back, Daylight Savings Time (and the light changes that come with it) has shown to negatively affect sleep-wake cycles and driving ability. This is because the body has a positive, stimulating response to light; as it gets darker, your body is inclined to sleep. When the after-work rush hour is in complete darkness, as it occurs after “falling back,” your brain can become increasingly tired on your commute. This can lead to increased risks of driver fatigue.
The National Safety Council further acknowledges the effect that “falling back” can have on driver fatigue and highlights that over 50% of crashes occur during dark hours.
Warning Signs of Fatigue
One of the best ways to avoid driving when tired is to understand the more uncommon signs of fatigue, aside from the obvious yawning and dozing off. Before getting behind the wheel, ensure you are not experiencing these symptoms:
- Increased blinking
- Slower reaction times
- Brain fog or memory lags
- Muscle stiffness or cramps
All motorists should ensure they are doing their part to reduce the possibility of preventable accidents caused by fatigue. Remember, certain medications, foods, or other common factors may increase your likelihood of fatigue and should be used with caution.