Gaining an hour: Does it affect road safety?

Over the weekend, most people in the U.S. gained an hour in their day thanks to the end of Daylight Saving Time and turning the clocks back. Initially, it might not seem like the time change is all that big of an adjustment. Kids might struggle to adapt to different sleeping times, but for the most part, it might seem like adults make the transition fairly easily.

However, there are some surprising ways that the time change can affect people. For instance, there are studies that suggest the time change coincides with an increase in pedestrian and motor vehicle accidents.

The end of DST means we lose an hour of daylight in the afternoon. So when we are leaving work or going to pick the kids up at school, it will likely be darker than it would have been last week.

The time change coupled with the fact that the days are getting shorter during this time of year means that most people will be driving more and more when it is dark out. This can create some safety concerns, especially while people are still adjusting to the shifts.

For instance, pedestrians may not realize they need to make themselves more visible earlier in the evening. Drivers may not be used to turning their headlights on earlier. People may be generally less alert during the darker hours of the day which can make them more careless on the road.

Some reports, like the one mentioned in this TIME article, suggest that as many as 170 pedestrians and 200 motorists are killed every year due to the loss of an hour of daylight. Tennesseans are encouraged to keep this in mind when they get behind the wheel or head out for a walk this time of year. Being aware of this can help people take extra precautions on the road and hopefully avoid serious accidents.