Time change could befuddle motorists, ICBC warns

Too few people make use of the extra hour of sleep, adding to the danger of a darker commute

Clocks fall back an hour on Saturday but not enough of us make use of the extra sleep and may end up posing a greater threat on the roads.

Motorists are being urged to drive with extra caution as they adjust to the fall time change that brings darker evening commutes, often along with worse weather and visibility.

The turning back of the clocks at the end of Daylight Savings Time (DST) on Saturday night (Nov. 3) in theory gives an extra hour of sleep, but an ICBC survey found 30 per cent of drivers squander it by staying up later.

That can worsen drivers’ concentration, alertness behind the wheel and reaction time to hazards.

“There is a 10 per cent increase in the average number of crashes in the Lower Mainland during the late afternoon commute in the two weeks following the end of DST compared to the two weeks prior to the change,” said ICBC psychologist Dr. John Vavrik.

“We rationalize that extra hour – many of us think that since we’re going to get an additional hour of sleep we can stay awake longer or drive home later, but we actually end up feeling more tired and less alert,” Vavrik said.

Sleep quality can also be disrupted due to more nighttime restlessness, he added.

ICBC tips to adjust to the time change include:

• 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 as the time change can impact the quality of our sleep.

• Adjust your speed for the weather conditions and allow extra travel time so that you’re prepared especially 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 weather. Clean your vehicle’s headlights and check they are all working properly, especially your rear lights. Make sure you have enough windshield wiper fluid and that your wipers are in good condition.

• Closely monitor your mood in the fall and particularly during the DST change. Get some good sleep this weekend and take extra care to help you get to where you’re going safely.