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Best Safety Practices for Daylight Savings Time

The equinox will arrive on March 20, ushering in the beginning of springtime and Daylight Savings Time (DST) in the U.S.

Though “springing forward” may be a one-day inconvenience for some, the concept and necessity of DST is regularly debated by U.S. lawmakers. But more importantly, missing or “losing” the one hour of sleep can potentially impact those behind the wheel of trucks and passenger vehicles alike, leaving everyone open to motor vehicle accidents.

Let’s review how Georgians can strategize on the road by spotting drowsy drivers and workers and how to also avoid unwittingly becoming a statistic – generally and while adjusting to DST.

The Intersection of Sleep and Driving

Several credible studies have proven that the quality and length of your sleep impacts your physical and mental health, as well as the ability to operate heavy machinery, like automobiles.

Impaired performance from lack of sleep mimics alcohol intoxication. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Being continuously awake for 17 hours is similar to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05% (the level some countries use for drunk driving violations).
  • Being awake for 24 hours is similar to a BAC of 0.10%, which is above the federal drinking limit of 0.08%.

The risks of traffic or motorcycle accidents increase, for example, when a driver gets behind the wheel after finishing their overnight or double shift on and around March 20. It’s up to everyone in North Georgia and Metro-Atlanta to be even more vigilant and responsible before taking to the road.

The Case For Year-Round DST

A landmark study in the American Journal of Public Health found that adding an hour of light to the afternoon increases the visibility of both vehicles and pedestrians, and further research has found that implementing DST year-round could help prevent pedestrian deaths and injuries.

Dovetailing on that concept, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimated that about 900 fatal crashes (727 involving pedestrians and 174 involving vehicle occupants) could have been avoided during 1987-91 if DST had been in effect all year long.

Accidents are not relegated to roadways, of course, as the National Safety Council (NSC) reported. More than 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, and those most at risk work the night shift, long shifts or irregular shifts. Add a demanding pace and being responsible for employees or systems in busy cities like Canton, Georgia and Cartersville, Georgia, and it’s easy to see how errors can cause physical and financial damage at a workplace.

Springing Forward Is The Law…For Now

DST is rooted in federal legislation. It was first implemented in the U.S. in 1918 as a method for adding more daylight hours and supporting the country’s efforts during World War I to conserve energy resources. It was reinstated for World War II and reactivated and extended several times by Congress through the decades.

In fact, Georgia is one of 20 states that has voted in favor of the Sunshine Protection Act, which calls for year-round daylight saving time to help reduce catastrophic injuries from trucking accidents to workplace mishaps and hopefully save lives, as IIHS data suggested. The bill failed to pass the House of Representatives, but could always be reintroduced.

Safety Tips For The Change Of Season

Anyone anticipating an increased workload or hours on the road should use this time to make some changes leading up to the start of DST:

  • Start the week before by getting as much light as possible each day. Add an extra 15-minute walk outdoors to your day to ensure it.
  • Move bedtime up a bit. Incremental, 10-minute changes can have you sleeping one hour earlier in a week.
  • Don’t over-caffeinate and avoid the urge to nap, as it can make sleeping well at night more difficult.

Lack of sleep caused by the time change can affect thinking, decision-making, and productivity.

Unfortunately, with DST approaching on March 12, everyone will have to adjust for missing out on one hour. Preparing for this seemingly inconsequential day can keep you alert and safe at the workplace and on the road.

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