If you've ever been involved in a car accident that killed someone—or if you've ever lost a loved one in a serious accident—during the second week of March, you're not alone. A recent study revealed that fatal car accidents are more common than usual right after daylight savings time begins. As we prepare to set the clocks forward, take a look at the research and some possible reasons for the increase in car accident deaths around this time of year.
What the Study Says
Researchers who performed the study looked at over 700,000 fatal car accidents between 1996 and 2017. What they found is that the rate of these accidents increased by about 6% in the week after the time change—which refers to the days following the second Sunday in March.
In particular, the rate of fatal car accidents increased by 9% before noon, so it makes sense that this may be due to people not getting enough sleep. After all, you lose one hour of sleep when you “spring forward,” and if you're already not getting enough sleep like so many adults, this could create a recipe for disaster due to fatigued driving.
While fatigue is likely to blame for many of these accidents after daylight savings time, the other factor could be that it is darker in the mornings than usual, which could make it harder for drivers to see clearly. Note that the study reported that the only time of day when accidents weren't more likely was from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. In addition, in the western third of every time zone, the study found that the rate of fatal accidents increased by 8%, compared to only 4% in the eastern third of time zones. The sun rises later in the west, so this suggests that the darker mornings could add to the issue.
What To Do After a Car Accident
If you do end up in a car accident—whether in the week after daylight savings time begins or any other time—you need to take steps to protect yourself. First, assess yourself and any passengers to make sure there are no injuries that require immediate medical treatment. If you suspect there are, you should call the police to report the accident, let them know about the injuries, and wait for emergency medical services to arrive.
If you're not injured, check on anyone else who was involved in the accident. Then wait for the police to arrive to take a report. Be prepared to exchange your insurance information with the other driver, but make sure you do not say the accident was your fault, even if you believe it may have been. Don't even apologize, since this could be taken as an admission of your guilt.
While you wait for the police to finish the report after the auto accident, you should take pictures of your car, the other car, and the accident scene as a whole so you have your own documentation of the damages. You'll also need to call your insurance company as soon as you can to report the accident.
Next, work on getting your car repaired and setting up alternate transportation, such as a rental car. Once you have the basics done, contact a car accident attorney. A legal professional can speak further with your insurance company to go over the details and determine if what you're offered is fair, or if you need to take legal action. You can typically get a free initial consultation to talk about your case, so contact a local car accident lawyer today to get started.