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How will the clock change impact your driving?

driving in motorway

It’s just an hour of time, but it can be so confusing.

This year, the clocks go forward at 1:00am on Sunday 25th March. And upon waking that morning, millions of us will no doubt spend half of the day looking at time-telling instruments with bemusement etched across our faces.

But there may well be more important repercussions following the switch to British Summer Time… not least on the roads.

Here are some ways the clocks going forward can impact driving.

Accidents increase after the clocks go forward

Studies have shown an increase in road traffic accidents and related deaths the day after the clocks go forward.

This is potentially caused by disruption to the sleep schedule, as we lose an extra hour in bed. People who get less than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night are more likely to cause a car accident than those who do.

RAM Tracking also identified a change in average speeds after the clocks go forward. The data showed an increase of up to 5.5% over the month after the change, compared to the month before.

It’s a good idea to take the lost hour into account before the clocks change; go to bed a little earlier than usual the night before, and in the days following.

When driving long distances, it’s always a good idea to take regular breaks. If you start to feel tired, head to a service station and stop for a stretch, and grab a coffee to perk you up before continuing your journey.

Or… do accidents become less frequent? 

While there may be an initial spike in accidents in the immediate aftermath of the clocks going forward, there is also research suggesting that British Summer Time is actually a safer time for our roads.

One study saw a reduction in casualties from road traffic accidents following the onset of BST. Other evidence suggests that the increased hours of daylight mean that collisions are less of a risk, due to better visibility conditions.

When driving in the dark, remember to take extra care and pay attention to your surroundings. There may be pedestrians or cyclists wearing dark clothing, making them much more difficult to spot than during daylight hours.

Clock changes lead to missed appointments

Researchers recently uncovered a potential link between the clocks being put forward and missed NHS appointments. With that lost hour, it’s likely that people also miss other appointments and turn up late for social plans.

In that moment of panic as you realise you’re late, it can be easy to rush around trying to make up for lost time. But that’s no excuse to drive erratically. Remember: it’s better to arrive at your destination late than never.

To minimise your chances of accidental lateness, ensure all your clocks and watches are changed. It’s even worth doing it the night before, ahead of going to bed, to ensure you’re set for the change. Some modern cars will automatically update the time for you, but it’s worth double checking, just to be sure you’re driving with an accurate clock.

Time for a tyre change?

Whilst not directly related, the moving forward of the clocks comes at a time when the weather is (usually) beginning to pick up. This takes place around the start of spring, and that means it may be time to consider your tyre selection.

If you travel on winter tyres during the colder months, spring should be a time when you look to revert to normal tyres. These are designed to perform at temperatures above 7°C, as opposed to winter tyres which are ideal for colder temperatures.

Use the changing of the clocks as a guide for changing your car tyres to ensure you’re driving safely, with maximum grip and comfort, all year round.

[1] The Telegraph (2017) Five surprising ways the clocks changing can affect your health

[2] RAM Tracking (2018) How will

[3] NCBI (1996) An investigation into the effects of British Summer Time on road traffic accident casualties in Cheshire.

[4] BMJ (2017) Impact of daylight saving time on road traffic collision risk: a systematic review

[5] The Telegraph (2018) Why British Summer Time has an unexpected impact on the NHS