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Turning clocks forward comes with risk on the road, B.C. safety expert warns

Daylight Saving Time is back this weekend and it's being linked to a greater risk of crashes on the road.
March 12 is when Daylight Saving Time begins and British Columbians "spring forward" one hour.

British Columbians will be changing their clocks and "springing forward" this weekend — but a B.C. organization is warning the move can increase crashes.

According to Road Safety At Work, the switch to Daylight Saving Time could lead to more fatigued drivers and a greater risk of crashes on B.C. roads. Road Safety at Work is managed by the Justice Institute of British Columbia and funded by WorkSafeBC.

“Fatigue is a type of impairment that reduces mental and physical performance,” says Trace Acres, program director for Road Safety at Work, in a press release. “Research shows it’s a contributing factor in about 20 per cent of crashes.”

The March 12 time change can cause some people to lose sleep for several days, he adds.

“Reacting a fraction of a second faster or slower can be the difference between a near-miss and a serious, costly crash,” Acres says, noting drivers are less able to judge distance, speed and time. They’re also less able to absorb critical driving information and respond to it. 

“Fatigue can affect all drivers regardless of age, skill level, or experience.” 

Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of traumatic work-related fatalities in the province, according to Road Safety At Work. 

"Whether you drive for several hours each day or just a few minutes, there is plenty you can do to improve your own safety and help make sure you’re not involved in a crash because of fatigue,” says Acres. 

According to ICBC, there were 576,923 vehicles insured for business use in B.C in 2021. Vehicles that are insured for pleasure can still be used for business up to six days per month. 

Heading into the weekend, there are a few recommendations for drivers: 

  • Get enough sleep during the time change by going to bed early in the days immediately before and after the time change.
  • Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Keep your energy levels up by eating good meals and healthy snacks.
  • Don’t leave driving until the end of the day when you’re bound to be tired.
  • Avoid distractions by putting away your phone.

For work drivers, these additional tips apply:

  • Follow your employer’s instructions for controlling the fatigue risks.
  • Only drive when necessary, using alternatives such as virtual meetings, to eliminate the need to get behind the wheel.
  • Know before you go by planning trips using for road and weather reports.