It’s an annual event most of us love: the end of daylight saving time (DST). This year, DST ends on Sunday, November 6 at 2 a.m. (don’t forget to turn your clocks back 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 as you adjust to the time change.
According to a 2020 U.S.-based study, an hour shift tends to lead to an increase in traffic fatalities. In fact, the study highlights that approximately 28 fatal car collisions could be prevented by doing away with the DST transitions each autumn and spring.
In Canada, 30% of drivers have admitted to nodding off to sleep while at the wheel. That’s why it’s important to take precautions to stay alert as your body adjusts to the time shift. Remember, if you’re at fault for a collision, it can affect your car insurance premium.
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, as it affects your body’s internal clock. This also poses a potential safety hazard on the road. Here are a few helpful reminders for drivers:
- Don’t drive tired. The shift from drowsiness to falling 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 soon?
In Ontario, the provincial government has given royal ascent to a bill ending the biannual clock changes and making DST permanent. Known as the Time Amendment Act, or Bill 214, it proposed making the change at the discretion of the Attorney General, provided Quebec and New York state do the same.
While former MPP Jeremy Roberts (Ottawa West – Napean), who introduced the bill in 2020, was reportedly encouraged by conversations he had with each in 2021, the law has yet to come into force.
If it happens, it will mean more daylight in the evenings, but morning commutes during winter months will be darker for longer.
However, chronobiology experts — scientists who study biological timing and processes — recommend Ontario switch to permanent standard time instead.
The laws related to timekeeping are provincial or territorial matters. Most provinces and territories observe DST, but Saskatchewan observes Central Standard Time year-round, while Nunavut observes DST 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 Nov. 6.
As we head into the winter months, it’s also important to ensure you and your vehicle are prepared for what’s to come. That includes installing winter tires, ensuring your vehicle is in good condition, and getting your car ready for winter by 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.
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