Spring forward to DST raises number of fatal crashes

Mar 18, 2020 | Firm News

Alabama residents may feel drowsy after springing forward one hour for daylight saving time. This problem is widespread, and according to a study from the University of Colorado Boulder, it even leads to an annual increase of 6% in fatal car crashes.

Researchers analyzed over 730,000 car crashes that occurred between 1996 and 2017 and found a consistent rise each year in the first week of DST. It was seen even when DST was rescheduled from April to March in 2007. They determined that some 28 fatal car crashes occur every year that could be prevented if there were no switch to DST.

They found in addition that residents of the westernmost edges of a time zone see an 8% increase in fatal crashes. These residents tend to sleep less than residents elsewhere, so the spring switch affects them more deeply.

In its effect on driving, drowsiness is akin to alcohol intoxication. It can cause drivers to become inattentive, exhibit poor judgment and risk assessment and react slowly to dangers. Drivers can avert the negative impact of DST, though, by getting to bed early in the days leading up to the switch and by minimizing light exposure from phones, laptops and TVs. They should also avoid heavy meals before bed; this will help them sleep more soundly.

When motor vehicle crashes arise because of drowsiness or simple distraction and inattention, then those who were injured may be able to seek compensation. In this state, victims who contribute to their own injuries to any degree are barred from recovery, so it may be wise to have a lawyer evaluate the case before moving forward. If the case holds up, then the lawyer may negotiate on victims’ behalf for a reasonable settlement that covers medical expenses, lost wages and whatever else applies.