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Soon after Halloween, the clocks need to be turned back to end daylight saving time (DST). This year, the time change will happen in the early morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 7.
For drivers, the end of DST means that the common commuting hour of 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. will be in darkness. Also, the commute into work and school is more likely to involve sun glare. All of this can create dangerous conditions for drivers.
Even though DST is not a popular tradition, it will likely continue in Delaware until many other states eliminate the time change. Since it will be happening in most of the United States, there is something far more serious for people to keep in mind. Drivers are more likely to get in car accidents for about two weeks following the time shift. AAA Mid-Atlantic said the increase in accidents in Nov. results from disrupted sleep patterns, even if an hour of sleep is gained.
Pedestrians are also vulnerable during the end of DST, specifically between the hours of 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
The morning commute comes with sun glare when the clocks fall back, making it difficult to see the road ahead. With the end of DST, the evening commute time of 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. is now in darkness. The week before, people were driving in more light during this time, even if it was fading. In essence, drivers are coming across visual challenges on both ends of the commute.
Morning glare causes accidents, but crashes are far more likely to occur at night than any other time of the day. Despite 60 percent less traffic on the roads at night, more than 40 percent of all car accidents occur at night, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
It takes time to adjust to the time shift. Sleep experts advise that you should expect to take at least a week or so to adapt to the time change. At first, people tend to become drowsy when it is dark outside, and that is another thing to keep in mind while traveling during your evening commute. Drowsy driving, similar to drunk driving, means inattention and reduced reaction time, according to the AAA.
Besides darkness coming early, adjusting sleep to your new sleep schedule can make you feel more agitated. Agitation can lead to aggression. On the road, you may also see more aggressive driving behaviors, such as speeding and tailgating.
There are biological reasons for irritability, too. The circadian rhythm, which controls the release of mood, appetite, and sleep hormones, will be thrown off, even when the time change is just one hour. That shift in the circadian rhythm can lead to headaches and other adverse side effects.
The AAA has a few tips that drivers can follow at the end of DST and throughout November and the winter months:
For pedestrians and cyclists:
There will likely be an uptick in car accidents in the weeks following the end of DST. You should prepare for the time change, but you cannot guarantee that other drivers will do the same. If you were injured by a drowsy driver, contact our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Complete our online form or call us at 302-427-9500 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.