Don’t forget to “fall back” one hour this weekend! Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 4th. You can thank (and in the spring, subsequently curse) Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany for the extra hour. Daylight Saving Time was introduced in World War I as an energy saving measure. While we gain the extra hour of coveted sleep, researchers caution people to be careful behind the wheel.
Why should safety be a concern? We are getting an extra hour of sleep, right? Researchers argue that the body takes about two weeks to adjust to the time change, as well as the lack of light. With that adjustment comes drowsiness, fatigue and poor focus, which can lead to fatalities on the road. Researchers for the American Economic Journal reported that the end of daylight savings time has contributed to the loss of 30 lives in car accidents between 2002 and 2011.
Below are things you can do to minimize problems with the time change.
- Be aware of the change in light. Daylight Saving Time means that the days are shorter. You will start to notice that you are commuting in the dark on the way home. Be vigilant that visibility will be reduced. Pay extra attention to all of your surroundings, such as the car in front of you and pedestrians in the roadways.
- Deer. Be mindful that November is deer season. Use extra caution when navigating back roads. With reduced light, deer will be harder to spot along the roadways. If you see one deer, always assume that more deer will follow.
- Driving needs to be distraction free. Eliminate distractions from your vehicle, so that all you are doing is driving. Do not text, eat food, play with the radio or your GPS, or do personal grooming while behind the wheel. To prevent turning your car into a mobile kitchen or bathroom, build extra time into your schedule, so all of your preparations are completed at home. Adjust the radio and GPS BEFORE leaving the driveway. As for the phone? If the call is important, pull off the road to take the call or type the text. Otherwise, ignore the phone. Your safety is more important.
- Get enough sleep. Give your body time to adjust to the new schedule. In the days leading up to Daylight Saving, make sure you are getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep a night. After the time change, adjust your routine accordingly. Proper sleep will keep you alert and ready to adapt to any situation thrown your way.
- Soak up some vitamin D. In the early days of the new time change, catch some rays outside. Much like adjusting to time zones in different states or countries, exposure to daylight will help you acclimate quickly to the new schedule.