Tips For Driving in Colorado After Daylight Savings Time Ended.

By Jim Lawson on November 5, 2023
(Photo by James L. Amos/Corbis via Getty Images)

Sleepyheads, rejoice: This Sunday marks the end of Daylight Saving Time and, with it, an extra hour of shut-eye when you wind the clocks back an hour. Still, as nice as sleeping in may be, the seasonal shift in our sleep patterns can increase the chances of drowsy driving.

“Shorter days mean many of us will commute home from work in the dark,” said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. “Motorists should begin adjusting their sleep habits now to ensure they get adequate rest.”

Sleep-deprived drivers cause more than 6,400 deaths and 50,000 debilitating injuries on American roadways each year, per the National Sleep Foundation. And, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, driver fatigue was a contributing factor in over 1,000 crashes last year.

Symptoms of drowsy driving can include trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes, or not remembering the last few miles driven. Alarmingly, however, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel.

“Your body can’t always warn you that you’re too tired to drive,” McKinley said. “The only safe bet is making sure you get enough sleep.”

Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report on sleep deprivation and motor vehicle crashes shows that missing just one to two hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly doubles crash risk. All told, drowsy driving contributes to more than one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year. 

AAA Colorado offers the following tips to help drivers avoid potential crashes:

  • Rest up. Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel. Your crash risk goes way up whenever you get fewer than seven hours of sleep. If you do begin to feel drowsy while driving, pull over immediately and rest or call a family member or friend for assistance.
  • Be prepared for morning/afternoon sun glare. Sun glare in the morning or late afternoon can cause temporary blindness. To reduce the glare, wear high-quality sunglasses and use your car’s sun visors. Use of the night setting on rear-view mirrors can reduce glare from headlights approaching from the rear. 
  • Care for your car. Keep headlights, tail lights, signal lights, and windows (inside and out) clean.
  • Ensure headlights are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce visibility. 
  • Keep headlights on low beams when following another vehicle, so other drivers are not blinded. Turn off your high beams when there’s traffic in the oncoming lane. 
  • Reduce your speed and increase your following distances. It is more difficult to judge other vehicles’ speeds and distances at night.
  • Be mindful of pedestrians and crosswalks. Yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks. 

Here are some of the warning signs that you may be too tired to drive or need to pay extra attention…

  • Finding it hard to focus on the road
  • Starting to daydream
  • Having trouble remembering the last few miles driven
  • Missing an exit or ignoring traffic signs
  • Yawning or rubbing your eyes often
  • Finding it hard to keep your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating another car or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless or becoming aggravated with things like sitting in traffic

 

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