Every March, we set our clocks ahead for daylight savings time. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder has suggested that turning our clocks ahead can be extremely dangerous for those traveling on our nation’s roadways. This study has found that when we set our clocks forward an hour, there is a corresponding spike in fatal car accidents. Moreover, this increased risk lasts a full six days after daylight savings time has begun.
Study finding shows that drivers’ bodies may have a difficult time adjusting to the change in daylight. The reason for the increase in fatal accidents is likely the loss of an hour sleep when we turn our clocks ahead in March. Fatigue can impair drivers just as much as alcohol, causing microsleep incidents whereby a driver is vulnerable to falling asleep behind the wheel for short periods of time.
Effects That Carry Over
In November when clocks turn back an hour, the change in ambient light that comes with turning our clocks back can have effects on our circadian rhythms and make it more difficult for our eyes to adjust to light. Because it is darker earlier in the day, it is harder for drivers to see. This also comes with an increased risk to pedestrians.
These changes can take drivers a week to adjust, and anything that makes drivers less alert is a risk factor. The study covered a 10-year period and during that time, there were 302 traffic fatalities that correlate directly with the change in time due to daylight savings. This means that during the six days following the time change, travelers are 17 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal accident on the road than other times during the year.
Experts assert that people who only sleep up to five hours a night are at an increased risk for causing a car accident than those who obtain more sleep. Everyone, even those who obtain eight hours or more per night regularly, are at an increased risk for causing accidents the six days following when we turn our clocks ahead.
A similar study conducted in Canada by Manitoba Public Insurance found that there is a 20 percent increase in accidents on the Monday following the beginning of daylight savings time, compared to every other Monday of the year. However, some question the validity of this study because of its small sample size and the failure to label and identify variables such as weather and its impact on the results. To mitigate some of these risks, experts suggest that we go to sleep earlier during the six-day adjustment period and avoid driving while fatigued.
New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP Represent Victims of Drowsy Driving AccidentsAt Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP, we provide vigorous representation to victims of drowsy driving accidents, truck accidents, and car accidents. To learn more, contact one of our New Jersey car accident lawyers today at 732-777-0100 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. With offices located in Edison, Red Bank, and Toms River, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the state.