How Can Drivers Stay Safe When the Clocks Fall Back?Published: Nov 3, 2021 in Auto Accident
The changing of the clocks is a biannual tradition for most of the United States. People know saying “Spring forward and fall back” to memorize which way the clocks should be turned when the time comes. When it comes to driving after the time change, there are some safety concerns that we all should understand before we get behind the wheel. Your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road is at risk. Motorists being extra vigilant this time of year can reduce the risk of a car accident.
It Gets Dark Sooner
One of the main problems with the moving of the clocks in the fall is that it gets darker sooner. Then the clocks are moved back, making it darker even sooner. Many people, particularly the elderly, have trouble driving in the dark. However, there are things that can be done to help this problem:
- Make sure your vehicle’s lights are working properly and use them often.
- Clean your windshield outside and inside to make sure there is no dusty film on it that would limit visibility.
- Cut down on the glare from ongoing lights and street signs by having light-colored sunglasses readily available.
- Most rear-view mirrors have a dimming function that lowers the light you see from cars behind you.
- Speak to your eye doctor about the glare issue and purchase glasses that help reduce glare.
- If possible, leave early when it is still light out.
- If driving at night is an issue, have someone else drive you.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule. With the time change, people tend to switch up their sleep schedules. This could make it harder to drive when it is dark, either in the evening or in the morning.
- Know where you are going. If you have not been there before, make sure you have good directions.
- Do not be distracted while driving by your phone or other things. Pay attention to what is in front of you.
- As always, drive the speed limit. Most accidents are caused by someone driving too fast to control their vehicle when an emergency crops up.
- If driving in fog, use your low beams, not your high beams.
- Approach intersections and crosswalks with caution so that you can see people who are crossing and can stop in time.
- If you are driving long distances, take regular breaks to give your eyes a rest.
Prepare for Winter Weather
With the fall weather arriving, this is a good time to talk about preparing your vehicle for driving in colder, winter weather conditions. It can be dangerous, especially if you are driving in the early morning or at night, when temperatures usually drop. Of the 1.2 million weather-related car accidents that occur every year in the United States, 29 percent take place on icy, snowy, or slushy pavement, and 18 percent occur while snow or sleet is falling. Specifically in Illinois, there are on average 27 winter weather-related car accident fatalities every year in the state.
There are many things that can be done that will make it safer for you and your passengers when driving in wintery, icy, and wet weather. Here are some things to remember:
- Check your tire tread and replace the tires if necessary.
- Check your tires’ air pressure. Most gas stations and mini marts have air pumps that are either free to use or just cost a nominal amount.
- If you live in a region that has a significant amount of snow, consider snow tires.
- Consider purchasing a four-wheel drive vehicle or, at least, a vehicle that has all-wheel drive.
- If the roads are going to be slick or slippery, just stay home if possible. The best way to avoid an accident is to not be on the roads.
- If you cannot stay home, drive slowly. Most weather-related car and truck accidents are caused by people driving too fast for the condition of the roads and unable to stop. It is very easy to lose control of your vehicle on ice-covered roads.
- Watch out for black ice.
- When driving on the highway, do not use cruise control. If you use cruise control, you have less feel on how your vehicle is reacting to the road surface. Also, you would not be able to stop in time when faced with a sudden emergency.
- If you must attempt to stop on slippery roads, do not slam on your brakes. This will cause your car to fishtail and skid. You want to pump your brakes and gently slow down. For vehicles with antilock brakes, do not pump the brakes; steady pressure on the brake pedal is required.
Prepare for Being Stuck in Cold Weather
Every year, there are stories from around the country of people being stuck in cold, wintery weather because their vehicle is having mechanical problems or they get stuck in a ditch. Most people are not prepared to have to spend several hours in their vehicle waiting for help. It is suggested that you put an emergency kit in the trunk of your car to help in these situations. The emergency kit should include the following items:
- Extra warm clothes such as gloves, socks, a hat, and a warm sweatshirt
- An extra throw blanket
- Drinkable water
- A small snow shovel to help dig you or someone else out if they get stuck
- Emergency flares
- A first aid kit
- Inexpensive hand warmers that you can put inside your gloves
- A rechargeable power bank to keep your phone charged
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