Daylight savings time is considered a nuisance by many, but remembering to change the clocks may not be the only thing that people need to worry about. There have been numerous studies showing that the risk of car accidents increases dramatically in the first few days of daylight savings time.
Beginning in the spring, clocks are set forward an hour. The change occurs at 2:00am on the second Sunday of March, springing forward an hour. This happens while most people are sleeping, but experts say they may notice a change when they wake up.
Losing an hour of sleep may not seem like a big difference, but even the smallest disruption in a person’s sleep cycle can have profound effects on mental acuity. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers who typically sleep six to seven hours are twice as likely to get into an accident as those sleeping eight hours; drivers sleeping only five hours a night are four or five times as likely to crash.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University conducted a study that analyzed data from the Monday following daylight savings time, compared to other Mondays throughout the year. In 21 years of accidents, there was a consistent increase in fatal crashes on that date, averaging 83.5 accidents versus the typical average of 78.2.
There have been several recent studies that showed similar results. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found in the 10-year period between 1999 and 2008, there was a notable increase in fatal car accidents in the six days after daylight savings time went into effect. The Fatal Accident Reporting System also found a 17 percent increase in traffic fatalities on that following Monday.
Drowsy driving is a huge problem in the U.S., whereby approximately three-fourths of Americans drive to work. Of those hitting the road every day, over one-fourth of drivers admit to driving drowsy a few days a month; 12 percent of drivers drove while drowsy at least a few days a week; and four percent were driving drowsy almost daily. The worst time for drowsy driving accidents is in the early morning hours of 4:00am to 6:00am, which can only get worse when drivers are deprived of an hour of sleep following daylight savings.
Drivers should be aware of the increased risk with the time change approaching this coming weekend. If they can, drivers should stay off the road until their sleep schedules adjust, but this may not be an option for many. Researchers recommend going to bed earlier to preempt the shortened sleep cycle, and drivers who find themselves falling asleep at the wheel should pull over immediately to avoid an accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a drowsy driver, call the Cherry Hill car accident lawyers at Williams Cedar. Our knowledgeable, experienced lawyers will review your case to determine who is at fault for your accident and hold them responsible for their negligence. With offices conveniently located in Haddonfield, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we help accident victims throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas. Call us today at 856-874-7500 or 215-557-0099, or contact us online for a free consultation.