When daylight savings ends in the fall, it’s not only the clocks on our walls and phones that change but our biological clocks change as well. The time change can affect anything from our sleeping patterns to the daily routines we’ve gotten so used to in the Spring and Summer.
We usually look forward to getting an extra hour of sleep, but never really think about the changes that occur in the evening. The reality is that it usually takes time for us to adjust to the changes, and during that period of adjustment many things feel off and sometimes there are consequences to that confusion.
Things might feel weird for some of us during the first week or so after the time changes. Being outside feels odd when business as usual continues at what seems like late hours of the night, our routines feel off as our sense of time is trying to adjust, and traffic seems to be flowing pretty heavily even though the sun has already set.
Waking up to more light in the morning might be a nice change, but we also lose an hour of daylight in the evening. And as it gets darker sooner, accidents of all sorts tend to increase. When time “falls back” daylight changes all of a sudden from one day to the next and the abrupt change can be more dangerous than we’d like to think. Below we outline some safety tips to keep in mind for when time changes in the fall.
Safety tips for drivers
Driving in the fall can already be tricky because of the wet roads and changing weather—add in an earlier sunset into the mix and accidents are bound to happen more often. Commutes back home from work during rush hour suddenly switch from daytime to nighttime, which means decreased visibility during heavy traffic increases the chances of accidents. And because it is easier for cars and trucks to brake on dry roads than wet ones, there’s an increased chance of getting involved in an accident involving another car or even pedestrians. To make sure you stay safe while driving in the fall, be sure that your car is well maintained before the colder weather hits; make sure your tires are ready for the wet and icy roads and all the fluids in your car are good to go. An earlier sunset might also result in fatigue, affecting the way we drive. It’s natural to feel sleepy once the sun is set, so it’s important to stay cautious of drowsy drivers.
Safety tips for folks exercising
Even though it gets darker sooner at this time of year, many of us don’t let that affect our exercise routines. If you end your days with a nice post-work walk or run, it’s important to stick to routes that you know well because unfamiliar paths can be tricky to the mind in the dark. It’s also important to run or walk facing traffic instead of having traffic come from behind you. This way it’s easier to see each other. Also, don’t forget your phone since it can be useful to have a light and be able to make emergency calls if you need to. And, if you must listen to music while you walk or run, keep the volume low or just wear one earbud because you’ll want to stay aware of traffic or other potentially dangerous circumstances. Finally, throw on some reflective gear so that drivers have a better chance at seeing you. You don’t have to wear a silly looking vest, but there are reflective clothing available, such as jackets and pants, as well as arm bands, bracelets and stickers.
Safety tips for pedestrians
The change in time can be especially dangerous for pedestrians. People are just getting out of work as the sun sets, and if you’re out walking or shopping you might find that there’s more traffic out even though it seems pretty late. To be safe, only cross the street at an intersection since it’s your best chance at being seen because of all the lights around you. Speaking of being seen, do not overestimate your own visibility. It’s better to assume that drivers cannot see you, that way if a car is approaching you, you can be prepared to move out of it’s way ahead of time. Finally, when you’re walking in the evening during the fall it can really feel like you’re walking at midnight instead. So with all the activity going on at such a dark time of day, it’s important to avoid distractions and make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings. Refrain from using your phone until you’re a safe distance away from the roads and be sure to pay attention to what’s on your left and right when crossing at an intersection.