Many drivers have a hard time adjusting to daylight saving time, increasing the rate of fatal traffic accidents like clockwork. Researchers have found that traffic accidents increase for up to a week after daylight saving time, resulting in hundreds of unnecessary deaths each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) reports a nearly 17 percent increase in traffic fatalities on the Monday after the time change, with accidents likely to increase as winter weather begins to roll in.
5 Items That Can Reduce Your Risk of a Daylight Saving Crash
It’s important to realize that while the time change is mandatory, these car accidents are preventable. In fact, it only takes a few simple items to prevent most of the crashes caused by the autumn time change, including:
- Coffee. Although there will be more light in the morning, any time change can cause a disruption in sleep schedules. Groggy morning drivers are just as dangerous as those unused to driving home in the dark, putting others at risk of crashes in both the morning and evening commutes. You may not have to drink coffee to combat fatigue, but you should plan on getting your usual amount of sleep each night in the week following the time change.
- Sunglasses. The brief moments where drivers catch the sun before and after work will be at a low angle, resulting in glare, visibility problems, and other distractions. At sunrise and sunset, the sun may dip below the reach of your visors, causing traffic to slow or even stop suddenly as drivers headed into the sun are blinded. Always keep a pair of sunglasses in your vehicle year-round, and make sure they are within arm’s reach.
- Headlights. Darkness can make a road you have traveled on for years unrecognizable. If you are commuting next to bikers and pedestrians, you will have even more trouble navigating darkened paths. Drivers on rural roads face an increased risk of striking animals (such as deer) between October and December. The simplest way to reduce your risk is to increase your visibility: keep your headlights on after dusk.
- 51 cents. One penny and two quarters are all you need to make sure your tires are in good order for the coming winter. Take the penny and stick it head first into the tread of your tire. If you can still see all of President Lincoln’s head, your treads are too worn to drive safely, and it’s time for new tires. In addition, the constant weather and temperature changes can cause your tires to expand and contract, causing air to seep out. The remaining fifty cents can buy you pressurized air to fill your tires at most service stations, and some even offer it for free.
- Winter wipers. The scorching heat of summer may not exactly be a distant memory, but the clouds are rolling in much more often than they were a few weeks ago. Rain, hail, and splashing mud are a constant problem in Texas winters, so it pays to select windshield wipers that can handle heavy-duty tasks. If you don’t want to replace them, you can take a moment to make sure your wipers are clean, undamaged, and are working properly. If the forecast calls for rain, be sure to leave a little earlier than usual; it’s much safer than speeding in bad weather.
Want to remind your friends and family to set their clocks back on November 6? Feel free to forward this article on Facebook to make sure your family members don’t forget about daylight saving time—and to arm them against tired and distracted drivers.