Clocks and other timepieces are set to fall back this weekend, signaling the end of daylight saving time, and ushering in an extra hour of sleep.
For drivers, including professional truck drivers, the switch at 2 a.m. Sunday will mean adjusting to new daylight and darkness patterns.
Jason Herr, vice president of safety for Penske Logistics, offered some tips and best practices for truck drivers and others navigating the time change.
“Even though the practice of falling back gives us all an extra hour of sleep on that one day, the extra rest can’t offset some of the dangers that accompany the end of daylight saving time,” Herr said.
A key feature of the switch back to standard time is the shuffle of one hour of daylight from evening to morning. That means it will become darker earlier, impacting evening commutes.
“When daylight saving time comes to an end, winter brings even fewer hours of daylight, and our drivers are going to spend more time in the dark,” Herr said.
Night driving comes with a unique set of challenges, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), whose research shows the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater at night.
The NSC encourages all drivers to take special care when driving in the dark and offers these tips:
- Aim your headlights correctly and make sure they are clean.
- Dim your dashboard and look away from oncoming lights.
- Clean your windshield to make sure they are streak-free.
- Slow down to account for limited visibility and reduced stopping time.
Yet, the time change will have an impact on our important clocks – biological clocks – requiring some time to adjust.
“Our drivers must be aware of the fact that we naturally want to wake up when it’s light and go to sleep when it’s dark,” Herr said. “Drivers who don’t get enough sleep, or who have been behind the wheel too long, are also susceptible to feeling the fatigue.”
Rest is essential.
“The best remedy is often to prepare and have good sleeping habits part of your personal safety plan,” Herr said.
Drivers should also take care to avoid distractions, which can influence their driving performance.
“Of course, we should avoid alcohol and medications that make you sleepy before driving and know the warning signs – yawning, blinking and drifting off,” Herr said. “If you experience any of these, find a safe place to stop and rest.”
And just when we get used to this new normal, it will be time to do it all over again. Clocks flip forward an hour on Sunday, March 10, 2019, just in time for spring.
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By Bernie Mixon