Earlier nightfall expected to increase drivers’ crash risk

Published: Nov. 6, 2022 at 10:06 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Daylight Saving Time ended early Sunday morning and the time fell back one hour.

Sunset in Birmingham was at 4:51 pm and because of the time change, more people will be driving home from work while the sun is down. This can cause an increase in crash risk.

“One of the known crash risk factors is nighttime driving,” said Benjamin McManus. “That can be due to poor visibility but it could also be to the increases in drowsy driving.”

Benjamin McManus is the assistant director at UAB’s Translational Research for Injury Prevention or TRIP Lab.

He says driving at night can counter our body’s circadian rhythm. He explains when it gets dark outside, it signals our body to start slowing down and getting drowsy. That increased drowsiness among drivers can end in more crashes.

“If you feel differently, you’re going to drive differently,” said McManus. “Anytime the time changes, the effects can be felt for up to a week. Give yourself a week to get used to everything.”

This is why McManus is warning drivers to be especially cautious over the next few days.

“No matter when you’re driving, you want to give your full attention to driving. So as we’re driving in more nighttime conditions, you want to make sure your attention is on the road,” he said. “You’re not distracted by devices; you’re not drowsy. You get the recommended amount of sleep and that you are careful for things around you because your reaction time will be slower if visibility is slower.”

With an early sunset, also comes an early sunrise. The sun will rise in Birmingham Monday morning around 6:11am.

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