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How daylight saving time affects riders

Added November 2, 2016
Daylight saving clock

By the time November rolls around, autumn is in full swing, Halloween is in our rear-view mirror, and winter is fast approaching. In the early morning hours of November 6, we’re to set our clocks back one hour thanks to the end of daylight saving time. 

An extra hour of sleep sounds like a gift. Whether you get that extra sleep or stay up later is a personal choice. The return to standard time means the sun will rise and set an hour earlier, with the hours of daylight continuing to shorten until the winter solstice. Does this one-hour time shift affect us as riders?

Science and time change

Studies have been conducted regarding the health and safety effects of shifting from standard time to daylight saving time and back again. Statistics from these studies often have limited widespread use since the data sets are often very localized. Still, some studies suggest that traffic accidents increase slightly immediately after the time change, particularly around sunrise and sunset. While not universally conclusive, this would suggest we riders need to be extra alert and cautious when riding during these times. 

Clock time vs. natural time

As motorcycle riders, we could benefit from considering how the time shift can affect us and other road users.

Clocks move back one-hour overnight, however, our sleep cycles don’t change that rapidly. It might take a week or more for sleep rhythms to adjust. While you adjust to the change in daylight hours, you might experience the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • Reduced alertness
  • Reduced reaction time
  • Impaired reasoning
  • Poor problem solving

During the morning rush hour, the sun will be higher in the sky, which can affect the vision of eastbound commuters. The evening commute will now start at sunset—most drivers will need time to adjust to driving home in the fading light.

Beat the clock

The timing of the day’s events is changing, and we have to change with it. It’s a fact of modern life. Even though one hour seems like a modest change, it’s an abrupt change to our natural sleep rhythms. Most of the adverse effects we experience come from trying to make a sudden change. 

We do have options on how we change our sleep schedules. Change the time you go to bed slowly over a period of a week, going to sleep 10 minutes earlier each night. Start the routine on November 1.

By making the change to your sleep cycle slowly, you ease the transition and might avoid the adverse effect of disrupted sleep. You will maintain your sharp riding skills when you need them most—when all of the already distracted drivers are still drowsy.

Sleep tight, and till next time, ride safe!