It’s an annual event most of us love: the end of Daylight Saving Time. This year, Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 1 at 2 a.m. (so don’t forget to turn your clocks back by one hour before heading to bed). Getting an extra hour of sleep is definitely welcome, but it can come with risks for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Driving in early morning darkness means decreased visibility, and according to research, that one-hour time shift tends to lead to an increase in traffic fatalities. For example, a recently published U.S.-based study suggests there’s a link between the time change and an increase in the number of fatal auto accidents. Moreover, it states 28 fatal car accidents could be prevented by doing away with the Daylight Saving Time transitions each autumn and spring.
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Safe driving tips after the hour shifts
While many of us welcome the one-hour change (who doesn’t appreciate an extra hour of sleep?), it can also leave many drivers feeling fatigued since it may affect your body’s internal clock. That can pose potential safety risks on the road. Here are a few helpful reminders for drivers:
- Don’t drive tired. The shift from drowsy to asleep can happen more quickly than people think. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep by heading to bed earlier than usual in the days leading up to the time change.
- Have a healthy breakfast. Before you get behind the wheel, eat a nourishing breakfast and hydrate with water or juice.
- Dim your vehicle’s interior lights. Turn off all interior lights in your car and dim the dashboard lights so they don't distract you or allow the glare to interfere with your view of the road.
- Be watchful and alert. Keep your eyes open for other vehicles on the road as well as pedestrians and cyclists. You may be rested and awake, but others may not be.
Is Daylight Saving Time going away in 2020?
In Ontario, the provincial government is mulling over a bill to switch to permanent daylight time.
Known as the Time Amendment Act or Bill 214, it proposes making the change at the discretion of the Attorney General, provided Quebec and New York state do the same. If it happens, it would mean more daylight in the evenings, but morning commutes during winter months would be darker for longer. However, chronobiology experts – scientists who study biological timing and processes – recommend Ontario opts for switching to permanent standard time instead.
The laws related to timekeeping are provincial or territorial matters. Most provinces and territories observe Daylight Saving Time, but Saskatchewan observes Central Standard Time year-round, while Nunavut observes Daylight Saving Time all year.
Whether or not Ontario or other provinces choose to commit to a permanent daylight or standard time remains to be seen. For now, you can expect time in Ontario to “fall back” by an hour in the early morning of November 1.
As we head into the winter months, it’s also important to ensure you and your vehicle are prepared for the what’s to come. That includes installing winter tires, ensuring your vehicle is in good condition, and preparing an emergency kit to keep in your car.
Staying alert and driving safely is paramount at any time of year. Protect yourself, others, and your car insurance premium by stopping and resting if you feel any drowsiness while driving.