When Daylight Saving Time ends in Ontario in November, it’s only a one-hour difference – but it can still have a huge impact on your sleep cycle. Drowsiness behind the wheel is a leading cause of accidents, and studies have shown that the average number of collisions rises during evening rush hour in the 30 days following the time change. Stay ahead of the time change and be ready to make the switch safely with these road safety rules for Daylight Saving Time.
Get a good night’s sleep
It always seems to sneak up on us, but if you can, be aware that the time change is coming and plan your first night accordingly. Try to go to bed early and take it easy on caffeine and exercise late in the day when the time change is coming up so you can sleep well and wake up refreshed and alert.
Take it slow
Even if you feel like your normal self, the time shift can distract you and disrupt your normal reaction time. So be sure to take things slow! Give yourself extra time to stop at intersections, make sure you’re well below the speed limit in school zones and retirement home zones, and approach crosswalks with caution. You may need more time than usual to react and come to a complete stop.
Headlights on at dawn and dusk
The time change often means that your regular travel routines are now taking place in the twilight hours, when visibility is lower. Twilight can seem fairly bright, but using your headlights during these transition times makes a big difference. With other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians better able to see your car, you’ll keep everyone safer.
And while you’re lighting up the outside of your vehicle, be sure to also dim the interior lights, to help your focus stay on the road and reduce internal distractions.
Share the road
Don’t forget that it’s not just you that’s on a new schedule – everyone else is, too. That means taking extra care to drive defensively. Give other cars and bicycles lots of space and leave extra room for potential mistakes. Remember that fall lighting can be deceiving, and your depth perception might be unreliable.
And when it comes to pedestrians, watch for walkers along poorly lit roadways in the mornings and evenings, and be sure to look one extra time at crossings and intersections for people on the roadway.
Get ready for winter
The time change means that winter weather is coming, and in Ottawa, that means there’s safety work to do! It’s time to start thinking about:
- Changing your tires from all seasons to snow tires
- Checking your windshield wipers and washer fluid to make sure both are ready for slush and frost
- Adding a snow brush to your car
If you do encounter a frosty morning after the time change, even if you’re running late, it’s important to fully clear your windows before driving.
Road safety rules for Daylight Savings Time for walkers and cyclists
Pedestrians and cyclists need to be extra cautious in the days following the time change, too!
- Make sure you are visible! As we don darker, heavier coats and sweaters. Make sure you’re wearing something reflective or add a headlight to make sure drivers can spot you at all hours.
- Stick to well-lit areas. When possible, travel on well-lit roads and pedestrians should only cross at crosswalks that are well marked.
- Obey the rules of the road. Be defensive! Watch for vehicles with potentially sleepy drivers behind the wheel and take extra time when changing lanes or crossing the road, to make sure all drivers are aware of your intentions and are given plenty of time to react.
Make up for lost time this fall by taking extra care to share the road.
Earn your Road SMARTS
If you would like to learn more road safety rules for Daylight Saving Time and beyond, take the #RoadSMARTS pledge. By taking the Road SMARTS Pledge, you Support Making All Road Travel Safe, which can help improve road safety for everyone. When road behaviours change, accidents are reduced. For more information and to take the pledge for free, visit https://www.ottawasafetycouncil.ca/road-smarts.