As daylight saving time (DST) begins and Americans “spring forward” again, we have to deal with not just the loss of one hour of sleep but the other negative effects of this change. Among those is a rise in the number of crashes on the roads.
The increased impact on safety – particularly in the early days and weeks after the time change – is in part due to the change in daylight hours. People may be going to work and other early morning obligations while it’s still dark for a time. They may be driving home into the bright sun as it sets later than usual. Both of these changes can give people problems with seeing what is on the road in front of and around them.
The effect of losing an hour on the many Americans who are already sleep-deprived is another factor that increases the risk of crashes. According to one neurologist, “A lot of these accidents occur because we don’t have residual sleep [reserves] to survive that insult. When we’re running nearly empty on our sleep-wake status, it doesn’t take much to push it into a negative area.”
How would ending time changes affect safety?
Just how much does the beginning of DST increase traffic risks? Researchers looking at the effect of making DST permanent found that it would reduce crashes by just under 2%. Interestingly, they found that making standard time permanent would increase crashes by 3.5%
Some extra time and attention are definitely required when driving after a time change. Unfortunately, not all drivers are so conscientious. If you’ve suffered injuries due to an at-fault driver, it’s crucial to be sure you get the settlement you deserve to deal with medical bills and other expenses and damages. Legal guidance can help.