It is almost time for us to “fall back,” and change our clocks back an hour. Daylight Savings Time (DST) clock changes come twice a year for most residents of the U.S., with Hawaii and Arizona being the exceptions (but with the Navajo Nation in Arizona continuing to follow the time change). The biggest fear most people have is showing up to work an hour too early. However, there is some evidence to suggest that the time changes associated with daylight savings actually increase the risk of an accident.
Car Accident Statistics Increase With Daylight Savings
A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine examined the time shifts associated with DST and the increase in fatal car accidents in the United States. There is generally an increase in the number of car accidents in the spring with a loss of one hour of sleep. However, in the fall with an extra hour, the number of accidents is sometimes reported as higher or lower than average.
Using data from 21 years of fatal car accidents, the study looked at the average number of daily fatal accidents compared to each DST shift. The results found that there was a significant increase in car accidents for the Monday following the spring shift. There was also a significant increase in car accidents on the Sunday of the fall DST shift. For other days of the week, no significant differences were noted.
The study concluded that the loss of just a little sleep on a Monday morning could account for the increase in accidents. Drowsy driving is associated with similar attention and coordination problems to drunk driving. Drowsy drivers may be slower to react, risk falling asleep at the wheel, and have impaired concentration.
On the other side of the time shift, the study suggests that some people account for gaining an extra hour on Sunday. They may be more likely to stay up later and drink alcohol. On Sunday morning, even without having to drive to work, they may be sleep impaired or recovering from a rough night of staying up too late drinking.
A similar study by the University of Colorado Boulder also found a 6% increase in car accidents during the workweek following “spring forward” and a 6% increase in fatal car accidents following “falling back.”
States Trying to Change DST to Save Lives and Money
The time changes are not just a traffic hazard. There is also a significant financial cost associated with the regular time shifts. Loss of sleep is associated with loss of productivity and daylight savings saps workers of sleep once or twice a year, depending on sleeping habits. One study suggests DST may cost $434 million in lost productivity.
Hawaii got rid of DST in 1967 because there was little time difference in sunrise and sunset throughout the year. Arizona followed a year later, for similar reasons. A number of other states are looking to ditch DST because of the problems it causes twice a year, every year. A number of states, including Washington, Oregon, California, and Florida have all passed bills to keep permanent DST but an act of Congress is required to approve the changes.
Many states have also introduced proposals to get rid of the twice-a-year clock change. Maryland lawmakers have introduced legislation to put the state on Eastern Daylight Time year-round. Pennsylvania lawmakers have made similar proposals, calling DST outdated and causing more harm than good.
Accidents Caused By Negligent Drivers
A time change does not excuse negligent driving. If a drowsy driver caused an accident, the driver who caused the accident is still liable for damages. If you were injured in a car accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian. Contact Gilman & Bedigian online to get started on your case.
About the Author