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How to Avoid Springtime Drowsy Driving


In the weeks after Daylight Saving Time begins, most people feel a little “off.” Sure, it’s nice to get home before dark, but you might also find yourself yawning more at work. The kids stay up too late—their internal clocks telling them it’s not quite bedtime. Little ones with set nap schedules may be fussy or cranky until they adjust.

It seems like it should be a minor adjustment. After all, it’s just an hour. But according to a new study in the journal Current Biology and reported in Healthline, the disruption you feel in your schedule after we spring forward is no small thing. By examining data from 1996 to 2017, the researchers found that fatal car accidents jumped nearly 6 percent in the week following Daylight Saving Time.

Why Daylight Saving Time Can Lead to Drowsy Driving

So why the consistent increase in accidents after the time change? The change disrupts our sleep patterns, with people more likely to get less sleep after the time change. They’re also more likely to get lower quality sleep. That loss of sleep leads to drowsiness during the day. And while we begin to correct our schedules after a bit, the time change can leave us feeling drowsy for up to two weeks.

So what should you do? Give yourself space to adjust to the time change slowly, ideally before the clocks even springs forward. Spring is a great time to set healthy sleep habits. Adults should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Try setting a consistent bedtime and avoid screens before it’s time to tuck in. If you know you’re typically exhausted for the two weeks following Daylight Saving Time, plan to cut back your social commitments or chore lists and get some extra sleep instead. If you have a long drive planned shortly after the time change, rest before or take turns driving.

Also be aware of any allergy medications you take or plan to take this spring. Antihistamines, even over-the-counter ones, can cause drowsiness. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about side effects.

How to Recognize Signs of Drowsiness

According to the National Safety Council, half of U.S. adult drivers say they’re regularly drowsy behind the wheel. Nearly 20 percent say they’ve fallen asleep at some point in the past year. While it’s best to avoid drowsy driving entirely by setting up a healthy sleep schedule, it’s also helpful to recognize when you’re too tired to drive. Pay attention to the following signs:

  • You have difficulty keeping your eyes open
  • You’re nodding off
  • You don’t remember details about the past few miles of your drive
  • You’re missing turns or traffic signs
  • You’re drifting into other lanes

If you experience any of the above signs, get off the road as soon as you safely can. Don’t count on music, open windows or caffeine to keep you awake indefinitely. (Though caffeine can help give you a short-term boost to reach a safe sleep spot.)

Macon Car Crash Lawyer

If you have been injured in a car crash caused by a drowsy driver, you need a lawyer with experience. The Macon personal injury attorneys at Buzzell, Welsh & Hill will help ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today.

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