Driver Knowledge Tests

End of daylight saving brings accident risks for motorists

Daylight saving begins on the first Sunday in October when clocks are put forwards an hour and ends on the first Sunday of April when clocks are put back one hour. Insurance companies in the UK report that when the clocks go back that accidents can increase up to 11%, but why is this?

Sleep routine

Many people are in a routine of going to sleep at a certain time and getting up at a certain time, particularly on work nights. While putting the clocks back an hour will (theoretically) give you an extra hour to sleep, it’s only on the Saturday night, and doesn’t do anything to adjust your body clock. You will want to go to bed an hour earlier and if you ignore that impulse it kicks your adrenal glands into action to keep you awake. Then, when you do go to bed an hour later, will you be able to get to sleep? If you have trouble getting to sleep, this can mean that you are tired for the several days it will take you to adjust to the new time. Tired drivers are more likely to crash.

Sunrise and sunset

While the sunset has been getting gradually earlier and the sunrise gradually later, you’ll have been adjusting your driving to compensate for it. When the clocks change it might be that your homeward journey is now in the dark whereas before it was light. This immediate change shouldn’t be a problem, but can be if instead of being dark, your homeward journey is now a dazzling sun on the horizon that prevents you from seeing the cars in front. As winter approaches, the sun’s angle gets lower on the horizon so it stays in the sun dazzle zone for longer. A good pair of sunglasses and a clean windscreen are essential.

Changing weather

The changes to sunrise and sunset, plus the increased likelihood of overcast days reduces visibility and this is especially bad for cyclists and motorcyclists. It also means you’re more likely to have rain which renders the roads more slippery.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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Posted in Advice, Car, Heavy Vehicle, Motorbike
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