Many people may have lost an hour of sleep Saturday night thanks to Daylight Savings. A spokesperson for AAA says this could make roads a little more dangerous for motorists and pedestrians.
With the time change also comes a darker commute in the morning. Kathleen Zinszer with AAA says a darker sky combined with drowsy drivers can affect how people drive.
“That change can mean drivers are more tired than they realize,” said Zinszer, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson. “Most people don’t get enough sleep as it is.”
In 2018, more than 2,500 crashes attributed to drowsy drivers in PA resulted in 15 fatalities, according to PennDOT. A study from AAA found sleep-deprived driving is a factor in 10 percent of all crashes.
For people driving under darker skies, Zinszer has some advice.
“Slow down, pay attention, and eliminate all of your distractions. You need to watch out for pedestrians, make sure your vehicle headlights and windows inside and out are clean. This is a really good reminder to check vehicle headlights. Over time, headlights can get very dim or cloudy.”
As for pedestrians, they face a potentially dangerous situation if a driver is sleep-deprived or if the sun is not up.
“If, and when, possible cross at an intersection or cross walk. Do not cross in the middle of the street. If you have to walk on a road that does not have a sidewalk, walk facing traffic. Most importantly, wear bright colors or reflective clothing. You could carry a flashlight, somethign that allows a driver to be able to see you a little bit better.”
The change from Daylight Savings also has real effects on health. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2008 shows an increase risk of heart attack for the first three days after “springing ahead.
Fortunately, most of the effects from losing an hour of sleep should go away within a few days. Still, motorists should stay aware of darker skies and sun glare in the morning.