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Preventing drowsy driving as Daylight Saving Time ends

This year, Daylight Saving Time ends on Nov. 1. During the middle of the night, people’s clocks will fall back by one hour. Many people welcome this extra hour, since they believe it allows them to catch up on sleep. Yet, it takes time for the human body’s circadian rhythms to adjust to this new pattern.

As a result of this disruption, motor vehicle accidents increase following the end of Daylight Saving Time. To protect themselves, motorists must know how they can recognize signs of drowsiness and stay alert while driving.

Indicators of drowsiness

Each year, around 100,000 motor vehicle accidents occur – in part or in full – due to drowsy driving. Thousands of people die as a result of these collisions, and many more sustain non-fatal injuries. Furthermore, over 40% of adult motorists admit to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once in their lifetime.

These numbers are reason enough for motorists to consider how alert they are next time they get behind the wheel. Some common indicators of drowsiness include:

  • Drifting across the center line or between lanes
  • Having difficulty maintaining a consistent speed
  • Hitting a rumble strip
  • Lacking recollection of the last few miles driven
  • Missing a turn, exit or traffic signs
  • Nodding off
  • Yawning or blinking frequently

Ways to avoid drowsy driving

Without proper sleep, many motorists revert to coffee – or other caffeinated beverages – to wake them up while driving. This may work as a short-term boost, especially combined with a short nap. Over longer periods, though, it is less effective.

Adequate sleep is a more reliable antidote to drowsy driving. Over one-third of adults in the United States report being underslept, meaning that they sleep less than seven to nine hours per night. By getting enough rest, motorists will feel more alert, which can improve their focus and awareness while driving.

Drowsy driving can also happen due to side effects of prescription medication. Motorists, then, must check theirs for any before taking it. If their medication could cause drowsiness, they will want to arrange alternative transportation for any trips they need to make.