End of Daylight Saving Time Increases Driving Danger

Annual "Fall Back" means sun glare for the AM commute, darkness for the PM commute, and potential for drowsy drivers.


DENVER (Nov. 1, 2018) – Sleepyheads, rejoice: This Sunday marks the end of Daylight Saving Time and, with it, an extra hour of shut-eye when you wind the clocks back an hour. Still, as nice as sleeping in may be, the seasonal shift in our sleep patterns can increase the chances of drowsy driving.

"Shorter days mean many of us will commute home from work in the dark," said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. "Motorists should begin adjusting their sleep habits now to ensure they get adequate rest."

Sleep-deprived drivers cause more than 6,400 deaths and 50,000 debilitating injuries on American roadways each year, per the National Sleep Foundation. And, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, driver fatigue was a contributing factor in 1,058 crashes in the state in 2016. 

Symptoms of drowsy driving can include trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes, or not remembering the last few miles driven. Alarmingly, however, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel.

"Your body can't always warn you that you're too tired to drive," McKinley said. "The only safe bet is making sure you get enough sleep."

Research from the 2016 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report on sleep deprivation and motor vehicle crashes shows that missing just one to two hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly doubles crash risk. All told, drowsy driving contributes to more than one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year. 

Additional data from the 2017 AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index show that more than 95 percent of motorists consider drowsy driving "completely unacceptable" -- and yet, three in ten Americans admitted to driving when they were too tired to keep their eyes open at least once in the past month. 

"America's problems with drowsy driving stem from this 'Do as I say, not as I do' mindset," McKinley said. "The end of Daylight Saving Time gives us a good reason to review our driving habits, especially because traffic death rates are three times greater at night than during the day. Get enough rest, and be mindful of everyone on the roads -- other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians."

AAA Colorado offers the following tips to help drivers avoid potential crashes:


  • Rest up. Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel. Your crash risk goes way up whenever you get fewer than seven hours of sleep. If you do begin to feel drowsy while driving, pull over immediately and rest or call a family member or friend for assistance.
  • Be prepared for morning/afternoon sun glare. Sun glare in the morning or late afternoon can cause temporary blindness. To reduce the glare, wear high-quality sunglasses and use your car's sun visors. Use of the night setting on rear-view mirrors can reduce glare from headlights approaching from the rear. 
  • Care for your car. Keep headlights, tail lights, signal lights, and windows (inside and out) clean.
  • Ensure headlights are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce visibility. 
  • Keep headlights on low beams when following another vehicle, so other drivers are not blinded. Turn off your high beams when there's traffic in the oncoming lane. 
  • Reduce your speed and increase your following distances. It is more difficult to judge other vehicles' speeds and distances at night.
  • Be mindful of pedestrians and crosswalks. Yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks. 


About AAA Colorado

More than 680,000 members strong, AAA Colorado is the state's most-trusted advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services - as well as member-exclusive savings. For more information, visit AAA.com.