(Media release from AAA, The Auto Club Group):

AAA-The Auto Club group advises drivers to be aware of risky driving habits with the end of daylight saving time. Georgians will gain an hour of sleep but will face additional risks to their morning and evening commutes thanks to earlier sunrises and sunsets, which could cause a disruption to sleep cycles. AAA warns these combined factors can greatly increase risks for car crashes in the coming weeks.

“Drowsy driving is a significant traffic safety issue,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA–The Auto Club Group. “Americans moving their clocks back by one hour may think they are gaining an extra hour of sleep, but they need to remember to monitor their sleep schedule to prevent drowsiness on the road.”

There is no guarantee that you will recognize your body becoming tired behind the wheel. In fact, one half of drivers involved in crashes as a result of falling asleep behind the wheel did not detect any signs of drowsiness prior to the crash. Drivers should be aware that there may not be any warning signs before drifting off to sleep. That’s why it is critical for everyone to be alert to any warning signs that appear.

According to AAA Foundation research:

  • Ninety-five percent of motorists view drowsy driving as very or extremely dangerous, but 17% admitted to driving when they were so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at least once in the previous 30 days before the survey (2020 Traffic Safety Culture Index).
  • Drivers who have slept for less than 5 hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.
  • Drivers who miss one to two hours of sleep can nearly double their risk for a crash.

Common symptoms of drowsy driving:

  • Trouble keeping eyes open.
  • Trouble keeping your head up.
  • Drifting from your lane.
  • Can’t recall last few miles driven.
  • Feeling restless or irritable.
  • Daydreaming or wandering thoughts.

AAA recommends that drivers:

  • Should not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs for drowsiness and should instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.
  • Now is also a good time to check your car’s headlights to make sure they’re still working right.
  • Operating at night, drivers should slow down, staying at least four seconds behind the next car; keep your eyes moving and watch for flashes of lights at hilltops, around curves, or at intersections, which may indicate oncoming vehicles.

Additional driver safety tips:

  • Plan ahead. Be sure to take into consideration the total length of your trip, stopping points, and other logistical concerns. If you are planning on taking a longer trip, take a friend with you. Passengers can help identify symptoms of drowsiness and share the task of driving.
  • Reduce any distractions inside your vehicle, such as talking on the phone or with other passengers, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Yield to pedestrians. Earlier sunsets and sunrises may make pedestrians more difficult to see due to unexpected changes in visibility.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.

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