Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, meaning earlier sunsets and an increased risk of car-deer crashes and drowsy driving. “Falling back” to Standard Time — that is, setting the clock back an hour — means you’ll be able to pack in an extra hour of fun with friends and family on Saturday or lounge in bed for an extra hour on Sunday. But afternoons will also zip away, with the sunset arriving earlier.
Lately the Virginia sunset has been arriving before 6:30 p.m. with sunrise around 7:30 a.m.
Here are some of the sunset times around Virginia on Sunday, Nov. 4:
- 5:04 p.m. in Alexandria
- 5:05 p.m. in Reston
- 5:07 p.m. in Fredericksburg
If you’re one of those people who loves mornings and starts the day with a walk in the crisp fall air, there is good news.
Here are sunrise times for Sunday, Nov. 4:
- 6:38 a.m. in Alexandria
- 6:39 a.m. in Fredericksburg
- 6:40 a.m. in Reston
Until the days begin lengthening again after the Winter Solstice — that’s Friday, Dec. 21, this year — the loss of an hour of daylight means many Americans in the Eastern and Central Standard Time zones will be leaving their workplaces around sunset.
Deer have their clocks altered in a different way this time of year.
In general, deer are most active between dusk and 11 p.m., and they’re especially frisky about the time October meets November. It’s prime breeding season — you may have heard it referred to as “in rut” — and they run about more wildly than usual, increasing the chances of collisions with cars and trucks.
So slow down, know that if you see one deer more are likely to follow, pay attention to deer crossing signs and use your high beams — unless you’re meeting an oncoming car, of course — to increase your chances of spotting them. Brake if you can, but don’t swerve, because that could result in a more serious collision.
Depending on where you live, your risk of hitting a deer may be greater than in other parts of the country.
Longer nights also induce drowsy driving. Of course, most of us don’t go to sleep the moment it gets dark or wake up the moment the sun peeks over the horizon in the morning, but our internal clocks hardwire us for that kind of sleep cycle.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research shows drowsy-driving crashes most frequently occur between midnight and 6 a.m., or in the late-afternoon — both times when there are dips in your circadian rhythm — that’s your internal human body clock. About 100,000 police-reported crashes a year are a result of driver fatigue, according to the agency’s website.
And if that’s not wake-up call enough, consider this: A staggering 103 million people admitted they fell asleep at the wheel in a poll by the National Sleep Foundation.
Of those surveyed who said they had fallen asleep while driving, 13 percent said it happens regularly about once a month, and 4 percent said they caused a crash when they fell asleep. The poll also showed that 60 percent of adults say they have driven when they were sleepy.
Some other findings:
- Adults 18-29 are more likely drive when they’re drowsy compared to other groups (71 percent, vs. 52 percent for drivers 30-64 and 9 percent for drivers 65 and older)
- Men are more likely than women to drive while drowsy, 56 percent to 45 percent, and are almost twice as likely as women to fall asleep while driving, 22 percent versus 12 percent.
- Parents and other adults with children in their households are more likely to drive drowsy than those without children, 59 percent to 45 percent.
- Night shift workers are more likely than their colleagues who work day shifts to be drowsy when they drive to work, 36 percent versus 25 percent.
Why Most Accidents Occur at Night
The risk of a fatal traffic accident is three times greater at night than during daylight hours, according to the National Safety Council. More animals, sleepy drivers and drunken drivers all play a role, but decreased visibility is the main culprit in increased night-time fatalities, the National Safety Council says.
Some reasons: Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporarily blind a driver.
To improve your night driving vision, the National Safety Council recommends:
- Make sure your headlights are clean and properly aimed.
- Dim your dashboard lights.
- Look away from oncoming lights.
- If you wear glasses, ask your optometrist about anti-reflective lenses.
- Make sure your windshield is clean and free of streaks.
- Slow down to compensate for limited visibility and decreased braking time.
Remember this, too: The evening rush hour is already a dangerous time because roads are crowded and drivers are eager to get home. With dusk coming an hour earlier, be extra patient, stay in your lane and keep an eye out for drivers who are darting in and out of lanes, and if you’re going somewhere unfamiliar, check the map before you go and memorize your route.