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How to improve fleet safety during daylight savings

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On March 11, most of the United States will turn its clocks forward an hour. Most of our phones and devices will automatically do this at 2:00 a.m., effectively moving an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. 

Even though it’s just an hour change, daylight savings can have a big impact on fleet safety. Outdoor conditions and fatigue directly affect the physical safety and well-being of drivers, equipment operators and others they share the road or job sites with. The good news is there are steps that fleet owners, managers and safety leaders can take to minimize the potentially negative effects of the time change.

Consider adjusting schedules

When we “spring ahead,” it impacts the human Circadian Rhythm, or our physical, mental and behavioral patterns of a daily cycle. Our biological clocks can take a few days to adjust to the time difference putting commercial drivers and general commuters at a higher risk of fatigue and being less alert. It can also lead to less attentiveness to surroundings and slower physical response times to things like braking, making the roads or job-sites a more dangerous place than usual.

As a fleet manager or dispatcher, consider whether any slight adjustments to schedules will help with risk and fatigue management. 

Even though it’s just an hour change, daylight savings can have a big impact on fleet safety in the transportation and construction industries.

Watch the weather & visibility

Aside from fatigue, there are also risks associated with driving in the dark; Daylight savings will leave the mornings dark for a longer period of time. In NYC on March 10, the sunrise will start at 6:15 a.m. and then the following day, March 11, at 7:14 a.m. Anecdotally, a lack of light can impact crash rates. It’s harder to see road conditions and impediments, and there’s often more traffic as commuters not used to driving in the dark make their way to work.

Starting in March, there’s also the potential for winter weather throughout a lot of the country. Since it’s darker later, slick roads and ice have less time to melt up in the early hours. Keep close tabs on whether drivers need to be delayed or re-routed.

Coach your drivers on safe behaviors

A proactive and ongoing strategy around driver safety should be a priority for any fleet, but daylight savings gives you an excuse to re-share best practices and dangerous behaviors to avoid. Remind drivers to: 

  • Watch speed – More commuting and congestion is taking place in the darker morning hours, and reducing speeds gives drivers more reaction time. 
  • Maintaining space – Drivers should leave extra space between themselves and the car ahead, which is also related to reaction time.
  • Avoid fatigue – Suggest drivers go to bed an hour earlier the night before daylight savings. And remember that, with the time difference, their bodies may not be ready to fall asleep when they go on rest time in their bunk. But longer “awake periods” can make them less alert.
  • Monitor road conditions – Harsh breaking, accelerating and cornering can be even more dangerous in the dark or in inclement weather.

Even a one-hour change can have a noticeable impact on human performance and driving conditions. It’s a good reminder to keep your fleet’s safety top-of-mind, on daylight savings and every day.

Learn more about how GPS tracking can help you make fleet safety an everyday goal.


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