WILMINGTON, Mass., Feb. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of a new safety awareness measure, perhaps the federal government should proclaim March 12 as "High Visibility Apparel Day." (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120227/NE60039 ) This year, March 12 is the first workday following the start of Daylight Saving Time (DST)—the day when clocks "spring forward" and many drivers lose an hour's sleep resulting in a marked, one day increase in roadway collisions. Each year, drowsy drivers cause 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in property losses and lost productivity, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And these statistics increase acutely on the first workday of DST each year, as they typically experience a single-day surge of 17 percent, according to a study by the University of British Columbia, which compiled its results using 20 years of U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. Dr. Michael Decker, a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has compared driver drowsiness to the jet lag that occurs when flying from the west coast to the east coast. And these days the need for increased driver vigilance is even more pressing, given the rising number of roadway crews working to improve the nation's highways, bridges, and mass transit systems. With so many thousands of workers now headed for roadside infrastructure assignments and Daylight Savings Time fast approaching, the need for high visibility work apparel could not be greater. "Properly rated high visibility work apparel, which is often required by Federal law, saves lives," says Adam Soreff, Director of Marketing for UniFirst, a work uniform and safety apparel provider servicing businesses throughout the U.S. and Canada. "ANSI-rated high visibility garments, made of bright yellow or orange fluorescent material with retro-reflective striping, can make at-risk workers visible to drivers, drowsy or otherwise, from up to four football fields away." No one has to convince AAA of the critical role that high visibility apparel plays with respect to worker safety. Roadside Programs and Benefits Director Doug McLendon, says "The high visibility apparel our roadside technicians wear is at the foundation of AAA's good safety practices. Their personal safety, which always comes first, is highly dependent on being seen by oncoming traffic. So making ANSI-rated visibility apparel part of AAA's official uniform program was a must." UniFirst's Soreff points out that high visibility apparel must be worn properly and maintained correctly in order to be effective. "If high visibility clothing is covered in grime or overly faded, from use or repeated washings, its reflective properties will be degraded." That's why, Soreff says, many businesses are turning to managed visibility apparel programs from companies like UniFirst that offer follow-on services such as weekly laundering to garment specifications and automatic apparel repairs and replacements.