Daylight Savings & Driving At Nighttime – How It Affects Motorists

by Erik Ovesny | November 5th, 2018

As the winter holidays come closer and closer, bringing the chaos of gift-shopping and family get-togethers with them, it is often easy to forget about one of the moments in the fall that will indirectly affect our lives the most: Daylight Savings! Although for most people it signifies an hour less of daylight during the cold months and an extra hour of sleep, it can actually increase the potential for vehicular crashes during the extended dark hours of this period. In fact, studies from the National Institutes of Health indicate that … ” an estimated 901 fewer fatal crashes (727 involving pedestrians, 174 involving vehicle occupants) might have occurred if daylight saving time had been retained year-round from 1987 through 1991.” With this in mind, motorists intent on driving safely during the winter should consider the following tips for avoiding accidents on the road during Daylight Savings.

  1. When in doubt, use your headlights.  While turning on headlights is an easily forgettable task in cars without an automated system to do so, one of the easiest ways to avoid car accidents is to keep your headlights on whenever you think they may be needed or even helpful. Drivers who are generous with their headlights (but not necessarily brights, as this can be distracting for other drivers on a busy road) are both helping themselves see what is ahead on the road and alert other drivers of their presence. In fact, the Minnesota Department of Transportation issued a report with findings that…” the magnitude of the reduction [in accidents due to using headlights 24 hours a day] varies depending on the study and the type of crash, but many studies have found a reduction of 5 to 10 percent” (Transportation Research Synthesis, Minnesota Department of Transporation). If using headlights increases driver safety throughout all times of the day, it isn’t difficult to figure out why this is one of the most essential daylight savings safety tips.
  1. Look out for animals in the road. Almost every experienced driver on the road has had at least one scary run-in with an animal trying to cross the street, but oftentimes motorists can become distracted by other factors and end up putting themselves, their car, and the area’s wildlife at risk. This risk factor is one of the biggest daylight savings safety issues, as the extended darkness of these months leads to weaker visibility and potentially shorter periods for reaction. News outlet Patch explains that …” in general, deer are most active between dusk and 11 p.m., and they’re especially frisky about the time October meets November.” Considering that deer often run out into the middle of the road regardless of if a car is coming or not, it is up to drivers to reduce the potential for crashes when conditions are less-than-ideal.
  1. Try to drive when it’s light outside. At first, this tip may seem like a no-brainer, but the significant rise in risk during nighttime driving is worth noting; statistics from the National Institute of Health shows that despite the decrease in the number of miles driven at night when compared to daytime, more than half of all traffic deaths occur during the nighttime. With the dangers of driving at night in mind, it becomes clear that any given driver at night has a much higher chance of being involved in a fatal (or very serious) car accident than a driver during the day, so minimizing your time on the road when it’s dark outside is one of the easiest ways to minimize driving risk. With the nighttimes extended another hour into the morning, it will become important for drivers to time their trips correctly as to ensure that they get to their destination safely.
  1. Take it slow during the early mornings or late nights. The presence of rush hour traffic in the mornings and evenings can often cause drivers to become more aggressive or anxious behind the wheel, but maintaining composure is of the utmost importance during these busy hours on the street, especially when the mornings grow dark and your visibility is somewhat compromised on your commute. Rather than risking your health or your vehicle to shave a few minutes off of your drive time, practice defensive driving by paying close attention to your surroundings, following the posted speed limit, and never attempting to shoot through the gaps between two other cars. No daylight savings time safety tip is more important than to simply drive smart no matter the conditions
  1. Remember to set your clocks to the correct time as to avoid panic or confusion.  Regardless of whether you walk, drive, or take public transportation to work, make sure that all of your clocks are correctly calibrated so that you don’t end up unsure of whether you are running early or late; any uncertainty or rushing behind the wheel can lead to unnecessary risks, so why not be sure to set the time correctly and save yourself the trouble of waking up with 5 minutes to get to work? Considering the above daylight savings safety statistics, do everything you can to avoid risky variables!
  1. Sleep well! Drowsy driving can increase the risk of fatalities and serious accidents on the road. Still, it is important to recognize that one of the safety hazards of daylight savings time is the change in clock settings when it begins. As slight as this increase in accident volume may be, staying sober and alert on the road is important regardless of time of day or time of year. Do yourself and the people around you a favor and drive smart!
  1. Take care to keep pedestrians safe. Due to the lower temperatures and extended dark periods of the fall and winter months, pedestrians may be less-visible to drivers on the road. This can be for a variety of reasons, including reduced motorist visibility, the desire to get out of the cold, and the desire to get inside and off of the dark streets. As such, a defensive driver will be wary of both the above daylight savings safety statistics and the increased risk to pedestrians during the holiday season, adjusting their driving habits accordingly. As important as it may be to drive at the posted speed limit and only while fully aware of surroundings at all times, do your best to pay extra attention to these factors for the sake of the safety of your community.

Having read through our Daylight Savings driving safety tips, try to recall these suggestions for defensive driving whenever you are hitting the road. Playing it safe behind the wheel may be the difference between avoiding and colliding with another person or car, so never take any unnecessary risks!

If you or a loved one has been harmed on the road in a vehicle-related collision, call Nurenberg Paris today for a free consultation regarding the compensation you may deserve.