AAA alerting drivers to changes in commute following Daylight Saving Time

ENID, Okla. — With the end of daylight-saving time, Oklahoma motorists need to prepare for changes during their commutes.

AAA Oklahoma warns motorists to be prepared for sun glare during their morning commute and for reduced visibility on the road during their evening commute.

“Ninety percent of drivers’ reaction time is dependent upon their vision, which is severely limited at night,” said Leslie Gamble, AAA public and government affairs manager. “Motorists should focus on night driving safety measures the moment the sun sets. It’s one of the most challenging times to drive because motorist’s eyes are frequently adjusting to the increasing darkness.”

AAA recommends wearing high-quality sunglasses and adjusting the car’s sun visors as needed. Late afternoon driving also presents a similar glare problem, so drivers should take the same precautions. Use of the night setting on rearview mirrors can reduce glare from headlights approaching from the rear.

The time change also can cause disturbed sleep patterns, and when combined with the earlier dusk and darkness during the evening commute, become a formula for drowsy driving and fatigue-related crashes.

Sleep-deprived drivers cause more than 6,400 deaths and 50,000 debilitating injuries on American roadways each year, according to National Sleep Foundation.

“While many will enjoy an extra hour of sleep this weekend, few commuters and motorists realize the added dangers that can come as the result of a time change — especially when they are behind the wheel,” said Gamble. “Although we gain an hour of sleep, our sleep patterns are disrupted. This can result in drowsy driving episodes and it is unsafe to drive when we are feeling sleepy.

Nearly one in three drivers (32 percent) say they have driven when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open in the past 30 days, according to the latest Traffic Safety Culture Report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. More than one in five (22 percent) admitted doing this more than once during that time.

Previous research by the AAA Foundation estimates that drowsy driving is a factor in an average of 328,000 crashes annually, including 109,000 crashes that result in injuries and 6,400 fatal crashes.

AAA Oklahoma offers these tips for drivers:

• Slow down.

• Turn on your headlights to become more visible during early morning and evening hours.

• Keep vehicle headlights and windows (inside and out) clean.

• Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are around.

• Yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.

AAA Oklahoma offers these tips for pedestrians and bicyclists:

• Cross only at intersections. Look left, right and left again and only cross when it is clear. Do not jaywalk.

• Cross at the corner and not in the middle of the street or between parked cars.

• Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks. If you have to walk on a road that does not have sidewalks, walk facing traffic.

• Evaluate the distance and speed of oncoming traffic before you step out into the street.

• Wear bright colors or reflective clothing if you are walking or biking near traffic at night. Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.

• Avoid listening to music or make sure it is at a low volume so you can hear danger approaching.

• Bicycle lights are a must have item for safe night riding, especially during the winter months when it gets dark earlier.

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Rains is police and court reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @cassrains. He can be reached at crains@enidnews.com.

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