The end of Daylight Savings Time (DST) means drivers will soon be spending more time on the roads during hours of darkness.
Research shows that the number of recorded injury crashes increases in the weeks following the end of Daylight Savings Time (DST). With the clocks set to go back one hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday October 25 in the UK and Europe, and at 2 a.m on Sunday November 1 in the U.S., now’s the time for drivers to prepare for the increased risks they will face on the roads.
The National Safety Council highlights just how dangerous driving at night can be: While we do only one-quarter of our driving at night, 50 percent of traffic deaths happen at night.
Shorter days, fatigue, compromised night vision, rush hour and impaired drivers are some of the risks associated with driving at night.
Drivers can take steps to help keep themselves safe as the end of DST approaches. Here are eDriving’s road safety tips:
Prepare yourself for safe driving
- Drive only when you’re well-rested, alert and unimpaired. Driving tired affects reaction times, attention, concentration and alertness and significantly increases crash risk. Learn about fatigue risk-factors and how to avoid driving tired
- Have regular eyesight checks and remember that as people age, they have greater difficulty seeing at night
- If you wear glasses, choose anti-reflective ones for driving in the dark
- Adjust schedules if possible to reduce the hours spent driving in the dark
Prepare your vehicle for safe driving
- Keep your windshield clear to help with visibility
- Check regularly that all lights are working- including brake lights and indicators
- Keep fluid levels topped up/off, including windshield washer fluid
- Aim headlights correctly
- Check tire pressure, tread depth and condition
- Dim the lights on the dash if you can
- De-fog windows before setting off
- Carry a basic emergency kit
Staying safe on the road
- Eliminate technology distractions by putting your phone out of sight and reach
- Set up GPS before you start your trip
- Minimize other distractions, including intense conversations with passengers, eating/ drinking in your vehicle or playing loud music. See our Distracted Driving Best Practice Guide
- Remember that visibility is reduced in the dark which means you have less time to react to something up ahead. Increase your following distance and adjust your speed to suit the conditions
- Be patient and mindful of all other road users. Remember that some road users might be more difficult to see in the dark, particularly cyclists and pedestrians
- Avoid letting yourself slip into “auto-pilot” on familiar routes. Stay alert throughout your trip
- Be particularly mindful of darkness increasing risk levels between the hours of 3-6 p.m. as children make their way home from school and people travel home from work. See more tips in our Driving at Night Best Practice Guide.
- Drive according to weather conditions – it takes around twice as long to stop on wet roads and up to ten times as long on icy roads. Read more about driving in bad weather conditions
- Employ defensive driving techniques, looking out for all road users and anticipating their actions. See our Defensive Driving Best Practice Guide
- If you use full beam headlights remember to dip them when another vehicle is approaching
- Remember that unfamiliar routes can look different in the dark
Did you know?
Many people assume that because we “gain” an hour at the end of DST, we will be more alert and aware following the clock change. However, this isn’t always the case as some people stay awake longer due to thinking they’re getting an extra hour of sleep*!
*Dr. John Vavrik, Insurance Bureau of British Columbia (ICBC)