On Sunday, March 11, most communities in B.C. will switch to Daylight Saving Time. That means some pretty drowsy drivers behind the wheel going to and from work on Monday.
Driver fatigue is a dangerous condition where the symptoms of sleepiness can severely impair driving performance. Studies show that our circadian rhythms or body clocks, don’t adjust to time changes naturally. A tired driver is a dangerous driver.
Sleep deprivation impairs brain function as much as alcohol does, reducing the ability of the mind and body to respond quickly and accurately. This impairment can affect your driving ability long before you even notice you’re getting tired.
Symptoms of driver fatigue range from heavy eyelids, frequent yawning, and feeling irritable to misjudging traffic situations, being surprised by a pedestrian or cyclist and allowing your vehicle to wander or drift across the line.
Sleep related collisions, hitting a pedestrian, rear-ending the vehicle in front of you, veering off of the road and into a parked car, are very common after a time change.
BCAA Road Safety Foundation recommends drivers do the following: Adjust your sleep patterns before the time change. Avoid caffeine or other substances to “wake you up” as this is short term and you may feel even more fatigued once it wears off. For better visibility drive with your headlights on during the darker morning commute. Be aware of the increased number of people out walking in the evenings taking advantage of the extra daylight, especially in residential areas.