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Clocks Have been Turned Back: Are You Driving Fatigued?

Clocks have been turned back within the past week, but does that mean you’re more at risk of a car accident caused by fatigued driving? The reality is that switching clocks back even one hour can wreak havoc with your internal clock, cause insomnia, and can increase the likelihood of some types of accidents.

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One problem is that internal clocks are not as easy to adjust as the clock on your mobile devices. Even though you may feel like you have adjusted well, you may be more fatigued than usual. You may especially be more fatigued in the mornings and in the evenings, since it gets darker sooner. If you do feel affected by the time change, consider giving yourself extra time to get work or leave the driving to someone else if you feel too fatigued to operate your car safely.

Insomnia Sufferers May be Afflicted at this Time of Year

If you suffer from insomnia, you may be more at risk. Studies have shown that even a one-hour change back – which seemingly gives you an extra hour sleep – can disrupt your sleep patterns and can make insomnia worse. If you notice that you are having trouble falling asleep and are tired in the mornings, consider talking to your doctor. He or she may be able to recommend solutions for insomnia that will keep you well rested and safe both on the job and behind the wheel.

Pedestrians Face Increased Risk

Whether you are a driver or pedestrian, you need to be more careful at intersections for the next few weeks, as well. A 2007 study from Carnegie Mellon University has found that in the first few weeks after the clocks are turned back in the fall, there is an increase in pedestrian fatalities. After the change of clocks, pedestrians are three times as likely to be in a pedestrian accident when walking during rush hour (around 6 in the evening). Part of the problem, according to researchers, is that there is less light than we’re used to, and this can affect pedestrian safety. If you walk, keep in mind that you may be more at risk. Consider taking your walks earlier in the evening when it is lighter and be more alert. If you are driver, stay more alert for pedestrians during rush hour.

Staying Safe

According to sleep experts, there are several things we can do to make the transition to a new time a little bit easier:

1) Get as much light as you can. Indoors and in your car, keep the lights on and consider a slightly cooler temperature. This will make you feel more alert and will help your body adjust.

2) Try to maintain good sleep patterns. Block out as much of ambient light as you can in your bedroom, consider a screens-off policy in your bedroom, and schedule plenty of time for sleep.

3) See a doctor if you notice something is wrong. If you feel more tired than usual or are having trouble sleeping, see a doctor. Fatigue can be a sign of sleep apnea, sleep disturbances, and even cardiac issues, so this is a symptom you don’t want to ignore.

4) Take good care of yourself. Eat good, nutritious meals, especially in the morning. Enjoy exercise every day to keep your body in the best condition possible so that it can adapt more easily to changes.

5) Manage stress. This time of year is also problematic because most of us have more to do. Organize your time and consider delegating some of what you have to do so that you aren’t as fatigued e.

Have you been injured by a fatigued driver in Hollywood, Miami, or anywhere in South Florida? The attorneys at Flaxman Law Group are always standing by to offer legal advice and representation. Contact our law firm today for a free consultation.