While it may seem unusual to think of the end of daylight saving time (DST) as dangerous, statistics show that drivers are at risk. Insurers and government agencies report an uptick in car accident claims every year around the two annual time changes in March and November.
This November, most Americans will once again move their clocks back one hour to standard time. As DST ends, your extra vigilance on the road should begin. Here are crucial safety tips to help you adjust to the time change.
Watch for Children and Bikes
Now that your commute home from work could likely be in the dark, remember that children will still ride their bikes or walk home from school activities, and many people will continue to take their fitness walks or runs. The only difference is that yesterday you could see them in the daylight while the time change may keep them in the dark.
Beware of Slick Roads
The end of DST ushers in cooler weather and the chance for icy roads. A thin layer of ice, called black ice, may not be visible in the earlier darkness, so be aware that the streets may not be perfect as temperatures fall. Also, a day that starts warm and sunny can quickly turn cool and rainy or snowy in the fall. Adjust your driving to the road conditions.
Use Caution Around Leaves
November means falling leaves. Homeowners may rake them into the street, or they may fall there on their own. Leaves make for slippery driving, especially braking, so try to use a little extra caution when driving over or near them, especially when it is dark outside and visibility is reduced. As a homeowner, be courteous and rake the leaves to the tree line and not the street to be collected. Most communities advise this.
Plan for the Time Change
For example, if you are planning a road trip in the fall, make sure to count on fewer hours of daylight driving. If you have always allowed your child to ride their bike home from football practice that ends at 6:00 p.m., you may want to consider picking them up since it may be dark at 6:00 p.m. with the time change.
While the fall time change means darkness sooner, it also means that daylight arrives earlier. Fall sunlight can be extremely bright when the sun does come out, so do not put away your sunglasses. You will need them for driving in the late morning or afternoon, especially, when stoplights can be challenging to see, and glare coming off other cars can be distracting.
Look Out for Wildlife
Even with the time change, squirrels, deer, and other creatures will still forage for food and shelter at dusk or dawn. They may cross the road in front of you. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) notes that drivers are 3.5 times more likely to hit a deer in November than any other time of the year.
This is good advice for any time of year, but especially after the time change. Many people do not drive well after dark, or they are uncomfortable.
Keep this in mind as you adjust your own driving behaviors to accommodate others. Do not assume another driver will stop, not veer into your lane, or obey all the rules, so be defensive behind the wheel.
Plan Holiday Driving
With several major holidays occurring after the fall time change, hundreds of thousands of people will be on the same roads you travel. Many of those will be traveling after dark, even though it may not necessarily be late. Consider changing your travel plans to all-daylight driving.
Review the Basics of Winter Driving
November may be considered fall, but that does not mean that ice or snow will wait for winter. Combine winter weather with fewer hours of daylight, and that can mean accidents.
Review the basics of driving on ice or snow. At the very least, if you run into poor weather unexpectedly, slow down, brake slowly, use your lights and wipers, and focus.
Prepare Your Car
The fall time change is the perfect time to prepare your vehicle for the winter months ahead:
- Take the car in for an oil change, system checks, and fluid top-offs.
- Wash the windshield and all windows well. Make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid, and check the condition of wipers.
- Check your battery. Cold weather can easily cause a weak battery to die.
- Check your tires. Underinflated tires can make it especially treacherous to drive on icy, wet, or snowy roads. Make sure they have good treads and rims.
- Consider snow tires. Fall is the time to get snow tires on your car if you use them.
Pack an emergency kit in the car. This kit should include:
- Snow and ice scrapers sturdy enough to handle harsh conditions.
- Flashlight with extra batteries.
- Road flares in case of an accident, and a lighter to light the flares.
- Deicer sprays for windows and locks.
- Snow shovel.
- Sand or cat litter to help provide traction when stuck.
- Rock salt.
- Extra clothing, such as coats, gloves, and hats, and footwear.
- Blankets for warmth, especially waterproof blankets.
- Cellphone charger and charging system.
- Distress signs.
- Jumper cables.
- Heavy-duty rope or chain for towing.
- Tool kit.
- First-aid kit.
What Are Some Fall and Winter Driving Tips?
The fall time change is also an excellent time to prepare for adverse driving conditions. Here are some essential tips.
Plan for Extra Time
Leave early enough so that darkness, bad roads, snowplows, and salt trucks will not make you late to your destination.
Prepare Your Car
If a snow or ice storm comes up while you are at work or parked outside at home, take the time to get your car road-ready. Brush the snow off your car, particularly the headlights and taillights. Remove ice and snow from windows and windshields before starting out.
Many people forget from season to season how to drive safely on slick or snowy roads. The number one rule is to slow down. An icy patch is much easier to navigate if you are going slow. Do not be intimidated to drive under the speed limit if conditions require.
Tap the Brakes Slowly
Accelerating or braking suddenly are both bad news on an ice- or snow-covered road. Both can cause slides and spins, endangering other drivers. Tap the brakes slowly when approaching a light or stopped car. Accelerate from a stop slowly until you have traction.
Do Not Panic
It can be nerve-wracking when your car begins to slip or slide on a slick road. Try to remain calm, and follow these tips from the experts:
- If the front of your car begins to slide, do not speed up or slam on the brakes. Ease your foot off the accelerator while firmly holding the steering wheel until the vehicle starts to slow and you can steer back into position.
- If the back end begins to slide, turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide without hitting your brakes. Do not turn the wheel too far as that will cause spinning.
- Never slam the brakes. Almost all cars have anti-lock brakes that will engage with firm pressure on them, but a violent slam on them will not help. Also, pumping the brakes slowly will help prevent wheels from locking and make stopping easier.
Wear Your Seat Belt
It is always essential to wear a seat belt, but it is especially critical in bad weather. Make sure passengers are wearing theirs as well.
Do Not Use Cruise Control
In fall and winter, a driver needs to be in complete control of their vehicle to react to adverse weather or road conditions. Turn the cruise control off.
Teach Your Teenagers
New teenage drivers should be aware that winter weather requires extra caution. Do them and yourself a favor by practicing on snowy or slick roads with them. At home, review winter driving tips with them. Make them confident about driving in the snow.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help Clients Injured by Fatigued Motorists After the Time Change
The end of DST can be dangerous for drivers, but there are ways to increase safety. Our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help you if you were injured by a drowsy or otherwise reckless driver. Contact us online or call us at 757-LAW-0000 today to set up a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we represent clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.