An odd thing happens every year when daylight saving time ends. Serious car crashes increase because of drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

We want to make our readers aware of the increased danger.

We were so surprised to learn that drivers who have slept for less than five hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk, according to research by the AAA Auto Club Foundation.

We join AAA in cautioning drivers to be aware of risky driving habits with the end of daylight saving time. According to the group, when time changes, drivers face additional risks to morning and evening commutes because of earlier sunrises and sunsets, which can also cause a disruption to sleep cycles.

Statistics of increased traffic accidents, directly related to drowsy driving or falling asleep, show the concern is well founded.

“Drowsy driving is a significant traffic safety issue,” Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman for AAA, said. “Americans moving their clocks back by one hour may think they are gaining an extra hour of sleep, but they need to remember to monitor their sleep schedule to prevent drowsiness on the road.”

People driving drowsy often don’t realize they are falling asleep at the wheel until it is tragically too late.

But here are some warning signs AAA offered this week to help keep you aware of the dangers:

— Trouble keeping eyes open.

— Trouble keeping your head up.

— Drifting from your lane.

— Can’t recall last few miles driven.

— Feeling restless or irritable.

— Daydreaming or wandering thoughts.

The auto group says drivers who miss one to two hours of sleep can nearly double their risk for a crash.

Interestingly enough, while 95% of drivers view drowsy driving as very or extremely dangerous, 17% admitted to driving when they were so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at least once in the previous 30 days before the survey, according to the 2020 Traffic Safety Culture Index.

AAA recommends that drivers:

— Should not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs for drowsiness and should instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.

— Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.

— Check your car’s headlights to make sure they’re still working right and always take extra precautions when driving after dark.

Regardless of the time of year or time of day, no one should ever drive impaired and never text and drive.

We remind our readers to set your clocks back one hour Saturday night, to drive carefully and stay safe on the roadways.

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