The Dangers of Daylight Saving Time for Truckers

April 12, 2019 2:22 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Springing ahead and falling back an hour with Daylight Saving Time has been a part of American life for more than a century now. It’s more than just an extra hour or one less hour of sleep, though—the change can disrupt sleep patterns, cause sleep deprivation and decrease alertness in the time period after springing ahead. Deadly accidents increase about 17 percent on the Monday after springing ahead. Over the next six days, deadly crashes are up 6.3 percent. There are pros and cons to Daylight Savings Time in Minnesota and beyond, but for truckers, it can often cause more issues than it helps solve.

Struggling to stay alert

Losing an hour of sleep for a truck driver can make a significant impact. While truckers struggle with that loss of sleep, freight volumes will also be increasing around the same time. Daylight Saving Time does increase the amount of sunlight in the afternoon, but it also means less sunlight in the morning. Truckers will see less sun when they start their days. Sunset also happens later in the evening, delaying sleep and truncating the process. Between March and the end of summer, deadly commercial vehicle accidents rise by about 30 percent on average. For truckers, less alertness means a higher chance of being involved in an accident.

Waiting around

The switch to Daylight Saving Time also means other issues for truckers. With more light in the evening, truckers are more likely to spend more time on the docks, loading and unloading freight. Even if they’re not moving the freight themselves, they’re still on the clock and not allowed to sleep. While some drivers will be allowed to leave while the trailer is loaded and may be able to catch some sleep, others will have to remain. This particularly affects truckers transporting beverages and food. Their chances and time to sleep are reduced significantly, creating a higher risk of accidents and injuries.

Prevention

Truckers will always struggle at times with sleep. Studies show human beings struggle to work at full efficiency on shift schedules. A truck driver should do their best to get a full eight hours of sleep each night. Fleet and safety managers should be in contact with their drivers and shippers to do what they can to make allowances for the disruption to driving schedules and sleep patterns caused by the shift to Daylight Savings Time in Minnesota. Truckers can only prepare as best they can for the loss of sleep. Plan ahead for extra sleep time and double-check pickup and delivery times.

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