Accidents spike when clocks spring ahead

Daylight time kicks in on Sunday, which not only means later sunsets but apparently, more dangerous drivers.

Daylight time kicks in on Sunday, which not only means later sunsets but more dangerous drivers.

According to Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), in a five-year period between 2003 and 2008, motor vehicle crashes on the Monday following the time change increase an average of 11 per cent — from 219 to 244 across the province.

Springing our clocks ahead one hour is enough to throw our internal clocks out of whack, said Diana McMillan, a sleep researcher at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Consequently, many of us become sleep deprived and when we are overtired our ability to focus and think is impaired, she said.

"You are not as alert. You are not as vigilant. You're not thinking clearly. You're often a little mentally foggy and your co-ordination isn't as good either," she said.

"You combine all of those things and you can see where you might not be as safe on the road — or the other person you're driving beside might not be as safe either.

"I actually try, if I possibly can, to stay off the road."

MPI is reminding drivers it will once again be darker in the morning — for the first couple of weeks — when the time change occurs.

It is urging drivers to get a good night's sleep and stay alert.

Tinker with time

Daylight time officially begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, when clocks are cranked ahead one hour to 3 a.m.

Known as the time of year most parts of the world "spring ahead," the change means an hour of lost sleep but more daylight into the evening.

Saskatchewan is the only Canadian province that doesn't move its clocks. South of the international border, just two U.S. states — Arizona and Hawaii — and three U.S. territories — American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — do not participate.

Daylight time continues until the first Sunday in November, when it will be time again to fall back one hour.

Traditionally, the clocks changed on the first Sunday in April, but in 2007 legislation in the United States moved the start of daylight time three weeks earlier in the spring and the return to standard time a week later in the fall.

The change, which was followed by Canada and most other jurisdictions in the world, was aimed at trying to help save energy, since people aren't expected to need their lights on as early in the evening.