BOISE – With the upcoming switch to Daylight Saving Time, AAA reminds drivers to watch for kids walking and biking to school, get plenty of rest, and make sure that vehicles are in good working order.

According to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 95% of drivers view drowsy driving as very or extremely dangerous, but 17% admitted to driving when they were so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at least once in the previous 30 days.  Drivers who sleep less than five hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.

“With the time change, we’re all going to miss out on sleep.  But by the time our bodies tell us that we’re tired, it may already be too late to prevent a deadly crash,” says AAA public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “For most people, getting at least seven hours of sleep is critical to being an engaged driver.”

AAA recommends that drivers travel at times of day when they are normally awake, avoid heavy meals before getting behind the wheel, and ask their doctor how the medications they use may affect their ability to stay alert.

“People tend to push themselves to the limit, for work or play.  But caffeinated beverages, listening or singing along to the radio, and blowing cold air in your face are poor substitutes for getting a good night’s sleep,” Conde said.

A bright idea – restore your headlights to factory-new

Over time, direct sunlight and hot temperatures can cause headlight lenses to become yellowed or cloudy, blocking up to 80% of usable light from illuminating the road ahead.  Signs of deterioration can start in as little as three years but are common by Year Five.

AAA recommends that drivers purchase a lens polishing kit from an auto parts store or have the work performed by a trusted repair shop.  Headlights may also need to be re-aimed to maximize performance and reduce glare for other drivers.

“As the days get warmer, we spend more time out and about.  Before you know it, the sun has gone down, and the potential increases for dangerous interactions between vehicles and wildlife, bicyclists, and pedestrians,” Conde said.  “Restoring your headlights is an important and relatively inexpensive way to see and be seen.”

School zone safety

  • Slow down. Speed limits are reduced in school zones to protect students.  A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 35 mph is nearly 66% more likely to be killed than a vehicle traveling at 25 mph.
  • Stay alert, particularly in school zones and residential neighborhoods. Actively scan from side to side, looking for children who may cross the street or dart between vehicles.

Slow down, move over

Emergency workers at the roadside are at a greater risk of being killed in the line of duty than any other occupation.  Every state has a law requiring drivers who approach an emergency vehicle with flashing lights to slow down, and if possible, move over one lane to provide tow truck drivers and first responders plenty of extra space to safely do their job.

“After a crash or vehicle disablement, additional congestion can result in significant delays and even secondary crashes,” Conde said.  “Our emergency workers are true heroes, and if we give them enough room to quickly clear the scene, it’s a win-win.”