EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In the four weeks after setting clocks back for Daylight Saving Time, Massachusetts has a track record of increased weekday crashes, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA) Northeast.
The auto club released a new study Wednesday saying that from 2010 to 2016, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays, there was a dramatic increase over the four weeks after the time change.
In the four weeks before the time change, Massachusetts averaged 581 crashes during that hour in each year that was studied.
In the four weeks after the time change, the average each year between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays was 907, an increase of more than 55 percent, AAA Northeast’s Mary Maguire said Wednesday.
Crashes involving pedestrians also more than tripled: In the four weeks before the time change, ten incidents per year; the four weeks after, 35 incidents per year.
“Many people don’t sleep as well” in the weeks after the time change, Maguire said, “and that can lead to drowsy driving, which poses a significant danger on our roadways.”
Thirty-seven percent of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The part of the population that’s most sleep-deprived, by AAA stats, is also the least experienced behind the wheel: teenagers. They should be getting more than nine hours of sleep a night but often only get about six and a half, while facing exams, college applications and extracurricular activities.
AAA also offered some important safety tips for drivers:
- Don’t drive if you’re sleepy.
- If you do feel drowsy, try to pull over immediately, park in a safe place, and nap for 20 minutes.
- If you can, drive with an alert passenger who can relieve you at the wheel.
- These are POOR sleep substitutes: Coffee, energy drinks, driving with windows open, or radio blasting.
- Long drive? Schedule a break every two hours or 100 miles.
- Travel at times you’re normally awake. Sleeping less than six hours increases your risk of falling asleep at the wheel.