Driver safety tips for springing into daylight saving time

  • Don’t forget to spring forward March 13 at 2 a.m.
  • Collisions are more common the days following the annual “spring forward.”
  • Go to bed a little earlier leading up to the time shift and adjust other daily routines temporarily to reset your internal clock.

Spring is just around the corner. The proof? On Sunday, March 13, we spring forward one hour into daylight saving time (DST). That’s the good news. The bad news is that we’ll lose an hour of sleep, which can have serious consequences for drivers.

Various studies have found the jump into DST results in more collisions.

One of the first studies to support this theory came from McMaster University in 1998 and concluded there was a measurable increase in the number of collisions that resulted in a fatality on the Monday that followed the spring shift into DST.

Another more current study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder in 2020, found it’s not just the following Monday that accounts for more collisions, but the entire workweek that follows the time shift. The study found that fatal collisions in the U.S. spiked 6% in the five days after the time switch.

However, it’s possible that for some provinces, this could be the last year we spring forward. In Ontario, Bill 214 received Royal Assent on November 30, 2020. This is a bill that was introduced to do away with the bi-annual time shift. However, the bill may only be implemented if Ontario’s two largest neighbours, Quebec and New York state, follow suit — and this remains to be seen.

Driver tips for this Sunday’s move into DST

Losing an hour of sleep can be tough on the body, but there are ways you can mitigate the impact or avoid it altogether.

  • Go to bed early on the days leading up to the time change: Start going to bed about 15 minutes earlier each night. It will give your body a chance to acclimatize sooner.
  • Adjust the timing of your other daily routines: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) suggests that in addition to going to bed early, you should also adjust daily routines that are "time cues" for your body. For example, eating dinner earlier each evening.
  • Spring forward in the early evening on Saturday: Set your clocks to spring forward early Saturday evening, then go to sleep at your "regular" bedtime. By doing so, you’re springing forward one night earlier. Stick to your usual bedtime on Sunday, too.
  • Work from home: While COVID-19 has made working from home the norm, many of us still have to make an occasional trip into the office. If you can, work from home as much as possible the week following the switch to DST. That way, you can avoid other drivers who might be sleep deprived.
  • Make sure you can see and be seen: In the morning, you may be heading out when it’s dark. Make sure you turn on your headlights, use your turn signals as needed, and approach intersections and crosswalks with caution.
  • Give your car the buffer it needs: Keep your distance on the road to ensure you have the space needed to slow down safely when traffic stops ahead of you.
  • Don’t drive distracted: It’s always important — no matter the time of year — to make sure you’re never engaging in distracted driving. Turn the radio down, eat your breakfast or drink your coffee at home or your destination, and hold all calls (even if it is hands-free) for later. Otherwise, you risk getting ticketed and put yourself and others in danger. Getting a distracted driving ticket can take a toll on your driving record and ultimately increase the auto insurance rate you currently pay.
  • Bring your sunglasses along for the ride: The shift in time may mean that you’re now driving home while the sun is still shining. Make sure you’ve got a pair of sunglasses in the car.

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