In the next few weeks, we will all “fall back” by setting our clocks back one hour beginning at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of November. This shift marks the end of daylight saving time (DST), which began in March. The practice started during World War I as a way to decrease energy use. Unfortunately, however, this change in daylight patterns can negatively impact driving safety and increase the number of car accidents that are likely to occur.
Why More Accidents May Occur When the Clock Falls Back
The end of daylight saving time has been found to impact the frequency at which car accidents occur for the following reasons:
- Car accidents are more likely to occur in the dark. The end of DST means the loss of an hour of afternoon sunlight when we set the clocks back in the fall. Since people are more active during the evening, this increases the likelihood of an accident occurring.
- In the evening, people are still used to driving like they were the weeks prior, when it was still light outside at the same hour of day. Even though it’s dark, drivers may continue to behave as if it were light out. This means that people may driver faster and be less attentive. Each of these behaviors can increase the risk of an accident.
- The change in time leads to disturbed sleep patterns and restlessness. As a result, we are more tired the next day. Changes caused by the end of DST interfere with our body’s internal circadian rhythm. These molecular cycles regulate when we feel awake and when we feel tired. They also impact our hunger and hormone production schedules. Drowsy driving is a leading cause of car accidents because it makes us less alert and less able to react to other motorists, debris, and pedestrians on the roadway.
- Our bodies produce less melatonin as a result of the end of daylight savings time. The amount of light during the day directly correlates to how much melatonin our body produces. When it’s bright outside, we produce less. If it’s dark out, our bodies produce more. This can lead to feelings similar to jet lag in the evening when it is dark.
Since there is no way to avoid the end of daylight saving time, it is important to prepare as much as possible ahead of time. To learn more about important driving safety tips, we encourage you to check out our Twitter page today!