Driving is a dangerous pursuit. You’re racing along among hundreds of others, potentially on wet, icy, or muddy surfaces, at all times of day. But is something as mundane as Daylight Saving Time (DST) a danger to drivers? You might be surprised to learn that when we change the clocks, our roads become riskier for drivers and pedestrians alike.
An “Extra” Hour
Most people celebrate turning the clocks back for the end of DST in the fall because it means they get an extra hour of sleep. That means you should be extra alert, right? In reality, any change in our day-night cycles, which are mediated by our bodies’ circadian rhythms, can make drivers feel more fatigued. It’s actually better to gradually adjust your sleeping and waking time in the days leading up to the end of DST so that your body has time to acclimate.
Of course, the start of DST in the spring is equally harmful to drivers, but because drivers lose an hour of sleep during the March clock change, most are aware they’ll be tired when they head out in the morning. Unfortunately, that awareness doesn’t necessarily translate to better driving. The Monday commute after the start of DST is one of the most dangerous of the year.