4 ways to stay alert after Daylight Savings Time

34% of BC drivers feel negatively impacted after rolling the clocks ahead, says ICBC.

Canadians put their clocks forward an hour this past Saturday night for the start of Daylight Savings Time (DST). However, a new Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) survey reveals that one-third of BC drivers admit to feeling less alert after the time change.

According to the survey, 34% 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 DST can have a dramatic effect on disrupting our regular sleep cycle as it puts us out of sync with our circadian rhythm. 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 some tips to help adjust to the time change.

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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.

This article was originally published March 9 and updated March 12.

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