Motorists urged to ‘Spring Forward’ with safe driving tips

Daylight Saving Time has sprung forward, which means we lose an extra hour of sleep.

The first week into daylight saving time can interrupt sleep patterns, which can lead to drowsy driving. Sleeping fewer than five hours a night increases the risk of a collision by four to five times.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017, drowsy-driving crashes claimed 795 lives. AAA reminds motorists that lack of sleep while driving can significantly increase their crash risk behind the wheel.

AAA found that nearly all motorists view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and completely unacceptable; however, nearly three in ten motorists admitted to driving when they were so tired they could barely keep their eyes open.

“The best way to prevent a potentially fatal crash due to drowsy driving is to make sure you get a good night’s sleep,” said Montrae Waiters, AAA spokeswoman – The Auto Club Group. “We often try to tough it out and attempt to stay awake through various actions, but if you find yourself too tired to drive, rest areas have been found to be most effective in reducing drowsy driving-related crashes.”

There is no guarantee you will recognize your body becoming tired behind the wheel. In fact, one-half of drivers involved in crashes resulting from falling asleep behind the wheel did not detect any signs of drowsiness prior to the crash. Be aware that there may not be any warning signs before drifting off to sleep, but be sure to recognize any of the warning signs that do appear:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming or wandering thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven, passing up exits, or missing traffic signs
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, following too closely, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless or irritable

AAA offers these tips to prevent becoming drowsy:

  • Plan ahead. Be sure to take into consideration the total length of your trip, stopping points, and other logistical concerns. If you are planning on taking a longer trip, take a friend with you. Passengers can help identify symptoms of drowsiness and share the task of driving.
  • Stop driving. Fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment and vision, causing people who are very sleepy to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Consumption of alcohol interacts with sleepiness which increases drowsiness and impairment.
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness. These include both over the counter and prescribed medications that may impair driving performance. If you are unsure how your medications may affect your driving performance you can find more information via Roadwise Rx:
  • Advise your teens to delay driving until they are well rested. Many teens do not get enough sleep at this stage in their life. Lack of sleep makes them vulnerable to the risk of drowsy-driving crashes.