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Daylight saving time linked with higher fatal crashes

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2020 | Car Accidents

Daylight saving time has been studied for its negative impact on health and safety, and it has come to the point where Washington and several other states are considering abolishing it. A new study shows just how deadly the spring switch to DST can be. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder analyzed crash records from 1996 to 2017 and found that every year, the first week of DST sees 6% more crashes that end in death.

This comes to around 28 fatal accidents a year. The effect of DST on drivers is likely much greater than this since not all crashes are fatal. Researchers also discovered an 8% increase in areas that are farthest west in a given time zone. Residents of these areas sleep about 19 minutes less than residents elsewhere, so the loss of one hour of sleep affects them more.

In 2007, daylight saving time was officially moved from April to March. Researchers found that the annual spike in crashes did indeed move with DST that year, clearing any doubts that the link was coincidental.

Drowsy driving after DST can be prevented in various ways. Drivers can try to get more sleep in the preceding days, avoid heavy meals before bed and minimize light exposure from TVs and phones.

Since drowsy driving impairs attention and reaction times, it is all too frequently the cause of car collisions. Victims can seek compensation via a personal injury claim. In this state, plaintiffs may recover damages even if partially at fault, but the damages they recover will naturally be proportioned to that degree of fault. To see if a case is worth pursuing, victims may see a lawyer for an assessment.

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