This weekend we enter into that time of year when we all turn our clocks back. Early Sunday morning clocks will “fall back” one hour to standard time. Unfortunately it means more than just gaining an extra hour of sleep.
Motorists should be prepared to drive home in twilight or even darkness as it starts to get darker a lot sooner. Up until this weekend there was still some daylight for those heading home around 5 p.m. After the clocks go back this weekend, that trip home starting next week will be in the dark.
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Here are some tips for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to adjust to the time change.
1. Remember to turn on your full headlight system to ensure your tail lights are also illuminated. You may have relied on your Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) through the summer to get you home, but from next week on, that won’t be good enough.
2. This is a good time of the year to do your vehicle lighting check to be sure all your headlights, tail lights, brake lights and turn signals all work properly. It’s just as important to be seen by all others as it is to see others.
3. Try turning down the brightness of your instrument cluster. All vehicles have an adjustment to dim these lights. The dimmer your dash lights are at night, the better your outward vision will be. Your instrument cluster does not need to be at full brightness for you to be able to read it properly. Check your owners’ manual to find this adjustment.
4. Keep in mind most people and those sharing the road will require a period adjusting their sleeping patterns to the new time. Be prepared to see some erratic driving. In the days that follow a time change, traffic collisions increase noticeably.
5. If you feel tired through the day, try taking a short “power nap” to help you fight off fatigue. Studies show that even a 15-minute nap through the day can help you be more alert. A late afternoon coffee can give some people just enough of a caffeine buzz to stay more alert for the drive home. It may take a week for you to readjust your internal clock to the time change.
6. Try going to bed earlier and waking up earlier all weekend to help your adjustment. Even two days on the weekend adjusting to the new time can help on Monday.
7. More pedestrians and cyclists will be wearing dark coloured coats. It will be much harder to see pedestrians. This is not only due to the lack of light – most winter fashions are dark coloured. Pedestrians should buck that fashion trend and wear light or reflective clothing. Being safe on the road is much more important than the latest fashion trend. It’s better to be bright, safe and walking upright rather than looking fashionable while lying injured or dead on the road.
8. Cyclists should check or update their lights on their bikes. Motorists and truckers will be hard pressed to see a cyclist in the dark so make yourself as noticeable as possible. There are some very bright LED cycling lights for both the front and rear of your bike that goes a long way to making yourself stand out. You can buy bright white for the front lights and a bright red for the tail light. These lights are not only brighter than the old fashioned bulb style light, but they flash in a strobe pattern, use less battery power and are more compact. Along with these lights, wear reflective clothing.
9. Motorists should be carefully watching for pedestrians and cyclists. When visibility is reduced so should your speed. Driving at a slower speed in darkness gives motorists a better chance at stopping in time.
10. In residential areas, children will still be playing outside but now it will be more difficult to see them. Slow down in these areas as the children will not be thinking of this danger.
Stay focused on your driving, keep your vision high and your eyes moving and we’ll get over this time change hump in greater safety.
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