Time change increases dangerous driving

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend. At 2 a.m. on Sunday, we’ll set our clocks back an hour.

While some look forward to an extra hour of sleep, the time change can increase the risk of dangerous driving.

According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, since 2011, most crashes in Kansas happen in the month of November. KDOT data showed 6,358 crashes happened in November 2016, with 50 ending in a fatality.

As we fall back an hour, drivers will notice more sun glare on their morning and afternoon commute.

Shorter days also mean many people will be driving home from work in the dark. Officials with AAA Kansas said traffic death rates are three times greater at night than during the day.

Shawn Steward, a spokesman for AAA Kansas, said changes in light and how a person’s body reacts to it creates the potential for drowsy drivers.

“A lot of people think of drunk driving and distracted driving as big issues, but drowsy driving is a big problem on the roads as well and can be just as dangerous,” said Steward. “In fact, in Kansas last year, more than 1,000 traffic crashes were caused by drivers who were drowsy or fell asleep.”

In Wichita, there are lots of areas with construction. Steward said construction and drowsy drivers makes a dangerous combination.

A 2016 AAA study showed that drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep nearly double their risk for a crash.

“They’re reacting slower to issues on the road,” he said. “It may take them longer to stop and react to other drivers out there.”

According to AAA Kansas, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes did not experience any symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel. Officials offered the following tips to help drivers avoid potential crashes:

  • Rest up: Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel. If you do begin to feel drowsy, pull over immediately and call someone 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, AAA Kansas recommends wearing high-quality sunglasses and adjusting the car’s sun visors as needed. Use of the night setting on rearview mirrors can reduce glare from headlights approaching from the rear.
  • Car Care Maintenance: 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.
  • 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.

For more information about drowsy driving, visit the AAA website.

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