Driver Safety Tips for Springing Into Daylight Saving Time

Purple crocus flowers blooming in the spring
  • Don’t forget to spring forward March 14 at 2 a.m.
  • Collisions are more common the days following the annual 'spring forward'.
  • Good to bed a tad earlier leading up the time shift and adjust other daily routines temporarily too, like dinner time.

Spring is just around the corner! The proof? On Sunday, March 14, 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 crashes.

One of the studies, out of McMaster University in 1998, 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 (2020) out of the University of Colorado found it’s not just the Monday that followed when accidents happen more but the workweek that followed the time shift. The study found that fatal accidents in the U.S. spiked 6% the five days after the move.

However, it’s possible that for some provinces, this could be the last time the need to spring forward is a thing. In Ontario, Bill 214 received Royal Assent on November 30, 2020. This is a bill that was introduced to do away with the twice a year time shift. However, there are provisions in the bill that implementation could only become reality if Ontario’s two largest neighbours, Quebec and New York state, followed suit, and this remains to be seen.

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Driver tips for next week’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 the days leading up to the time change: Start going to bed early, about 15 minutes each night, leading up to the change in clocks. It will give your body a chance to acclimatize sooner.
  • Adjust the timing of your other daily routines: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine 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 a touch 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 spring forwarding your sleep one night earlier. Stick to your usual bedtime on Sunday too.
  • Work from home: While COVID-19 has made working from home the norm, rather than the exception, many of us still have to make an occasional trip into the office. If you can, work from home as much as you can the week following the switch to DST. That way, you can avoid other drivers who might be feeling the effects of a lack of sleep.
  • Make sure you can see and be seen: In the morning, you may be heading out when it is 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 is always important - no matter the time of year - but worth the reminder: don’t drive distracted. 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.
  • Bring your sunglasses along for the ride: The shift in time may mean that you’re now driving home while the day is still bright. Make sure you’ve got a pair of sunglasses in the car.