03/09/07 — Daylight-savings time will affect mornings

View Archive

Daylight-savings time will affect mornings

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on March 9, 2007 1:51 PM

With daylight-saving time ushered in earlier this year, many are scrambling to adjust their inner clocks in anticipation -- and their eyes as they head into the morning sun.

The time change is especially felt by the schools, which typically have start times between 7:30 and 8, requiring buses to be on the road even earlier.

Debbie Ogburn, principal at Carver Elementary School in Mount Olive, said the difference is evident right away.

"The children are very tired when they come in the morning," she said. "The teachers are very tired, for that matter."

Dr. Johnny Williams, the neurodiagnostic supervisor at Wayne Memorial Hospital, said children should be getting between nine to 10 hours of sleep each night, while adults should be getting at least eight hours nightly. But the time change cuts hours off those amounts for people of all ages.

"Daylight-saving time is like a bandit robbing people of their sleep," Williams said.

He added that about 78 million Americans are already affected by some kind of sleep problems and the time change doesn't help matters.

At local schools, the lost hour gets everyone's sleep patterns off, Mrs. Ogburn said.

"Plus with it staying brighter longer, (children) stay outside longer. They're not getting homework done because they don't realize how late it is.

"We have a few adjustments we have to make but after the first week or so, it gets better. We just encourage them to get to bed on time and monitor them."

Williams said he encourages parents to get their children into bed earlier every night of the week, including the weekend, because one late night can ruin the whole week.

But he also warned that parents need to get their rest, too.

"Some studies have shown that there is an increase in traffic accidents on the Monday after the time change," Williams said.

In previous years, daylight-saving time occurred in April, but federal legislation has pushed the day up three weeks. In Wayne County over the past three years, more accidents occurred around 7 a.m. in April than in March, according to statistics from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Raymond Smith Jr., director of transportation for Wayne County Public Schools, said the early morning drivers will notice the change right away.

"Especially when traveling in an easterly direction, the sun has a tendency to cause a tremendous amount of glare," he said.

Transportation engineer Cliff Braam said there is no way to determine whether the sun's glare caused a wreck, but Smith said there have been instances in Wayne County.

One example of that occurred in November 2005 when three eighth-graders at Greenwood Middle School were struck while crossing the street in front of the school.

"The driver said it was the sunlight in his eyes," Smith said.

Motorists should be advised to use extra caution, particularly first thing in the morning, he said, when problem visibility is even more prevalent.

"Buses are yellow, the sun is bright yellow, and sometimes that bus may blend in with the sun, especially when traveling in an easterly direction," he said.

And that message is also given to bus drivers.

"We tell our bus drivers to be more cautious, to be more observant of children on the side of the road. It's more difficult to see them," Smith said.

One effort being pushed this month through the Department of Public Instruction, in conjunction with the highway patrol, Smith said, is Operation Stop Arm. It refers to the illegal passing of a stopped school bus with red lights flashing.

"All of the (school) systems in the state are going to be placing extra emphasis on that, to see if we can't make people more aware of that violation and how dangerous it is, especially with the daylight-saving time, with the visibility being different," Smith said.