ICBC survey finds many B.C. drivers feel less alert at the start of Daylight Savings Time
March 9, 2012
As we get ready to put our clocks forward an hour this Saturday night for the start of Daylight Savings Time (DST), a new ICBC survey reveals that one-third of B.C. drivers admit to feeling less alert after the time change.
According to the survey, 34 per cent of drivers said the time shift does affect them and make them feel less alert even though many are also making an effort to help their bodies adapt.
"We're actually encouraged to see that many drivers have the self-awareness to know that they may have a diminished capacity to drive safely immediately following the time change," said Dr. John Vavrik, a psychologist with ICBC. "This is a much better attitude to have than being over-confident that you're not affected which tends to increase your crash risk."
ICBC's survey also found that females report being more negatively impacted by the change even though they generally have a lower crash risk compared to males. More than half of male drivers report getting enough sleep during the time change, which is good news as they tend to have a higher crash risk.
Studies show that the switch into Daylight Savings Time can have a dramatic effect on disrupting our regular sleep cycle as it puts us out of sync with our circadian rhythm.
"The change in our sleep cycle can cause unique dangers on our roads as some drivers will feel more fatigued than usual," said Vavrik. "Given that, it's also encouraging to see that almost one-third of drivers actually go to bed earlier to adapt to the change."
The biggest impacts of the time change on drivers can be felt on some of the key skills that affect the quality of our driving - poorer concentration, alertness behind the wheel and reaction time to potential hazards.
The real danger can be that people often believe if they don't feel tired then they aren't fatigued but this isn't the case - the time change can make us feel more fatigued without us even knowing it.
Here are ICBC's tips to help adjust to the time change:
- If you make an effort to adapt to the time change then it can really pay off. Plan to get to bed earlier on Saturday evening and go to bed at your regular time on Sunday to be ready for the Monday morning commute.
- Be aware of how your own body adapts to the time change and how that may affect your ability to concentrate and avoid hazards. Studies have shown that time changes can have an impact on the quality of our sleep due to more nighttime restlessness.
- After many weeks of earlier sunrises, now's the time to plan ahead for some darker morning commutes, particularly as we can expect more vulnerable road users - cyclists and pedestrians - on the road.
- Prepare your vehicle for the change in conditions, particularly the darker morning commutes. Clean your vehicle's headlights and check they are all working properly, especially your rear lights.
- Get some good sleep this weekend and drive smart.