Time change can be a danger to drivers

B.C. drivers may not realize the potential benefits of an extra hour of sleep.

With Sunday’s (Nov. 6) return to standard time, B.C. drivers may not realize the potential benefits of an extra hour of sleep and that failing to adapt to the time change can cause drivers to experience greater risks on the road.

Clocks fall back one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday and a ICBC survey reveals that 30 per cent of drivers overcompensate for that extra hour of sleep by staying up later and therefore losing any potential benefit.

“Part of the problem can be that we anticipate getting an additional hour of sleep so we stay out longer or drive home later, and we actually end up feeling more tired and less alert,” said John Vavrik, a psychologist with ICBC.

ICBC’s survey found that only 24 per cent of drivers feel more alert the morning after the time change, while 19 per cent actually feel less alert.

Overall, B.C. drivers said they feel less safe on the road during their afternoon commute following the time change, compared to the morning commute.

The dramatic decrease in light during the evening commute is the biggest factor that can compound some of the negative effects of the time change.

“The time change can make us feel more fatigued without us even knowing it and then we also have to deal with a darker evening commute, worsening weather and a real lack of visibility to other vulnerable road users,” said Vavrik.

Here are ICBC’s tips to help adjust to the time change:

Keep your regular sleep/wake cycle in step with your every day social rhythm. Go to bed at the same time you normally would and benefit from that extra hour of sleep.

Don’t assume you are more rested and alert on the road the mornings following the change. Studies have shown that the end of Daylight Savings Time can still have an impact on the quality of our sleep due to more nighttime restlessness.

Plan ahead for the darker, late afternoon commutes where there will be slower traffic flow, less visible pedestrians and cyclists and an even greater need to signal properly.

Prepare your vehicle for the change in conditions, particularly the darker evening commutes. Clean your vehicle’s headlights and check they are  working properly. especially your rear lights.

Closely monitor your mood in the fall and particularly during daylight hours.