Does Daylight Savings Time Lead To Car Accidents?

We have all heard of Daylight Savings Time. Most people now that it is the period that they have to change their clocks, though it is likely you have to check whether your clock is supposed to go forward or backward an hour. For Daylight Savings Time, we set our clocks ahead an hour ahead somewhere near the beginning of Spring. In 2020, this change occurs on March 8.

Many people simply think that this is an inconvenience that causes them to lose an hour of sleep. However, what most people do not realize is that losing an hour of sleep can lead to a rise in car accidents.

Why would this change cause car accidents?

A study by the University of Colorado Boulder states that there is a spike in fatal car accidents during the six days following the start of Daylight Savings Time. Researchers argue that it takes a person a week to fully adjust to the new schedule, leaving drivers less alert due to sleep deprivation caused by losing an hour of sleep and the adjustment to a new schedule.

A study from Canada’s Manitoba Public Insurance states that there is a 20% increase in vehicle accidents on the Monday following the start of Daylight Savings Time, likely due to that being the first day that people have to wake up early with the adjusted schedule.

Many researchers have argued that there are so many negative effects associated with Daylight Savings Time that the practice of annually setting the clocks back and forth should be abolished completely. Estimates say that as many as 366 traffic fatalities could be prevented by sticking with a single time system.

Preparing for the clock change

Armed with this data, it would be beneficial to take steps to prepare for Daylight Savings Time. Before the clock change, you could try getting out of bed early for a few nights consistently before the official change. This may sound difficult, but it can get you ready for the eventual change. When you are driving after the clocks change, you should lessen any distractions in your vehicle. Do not eat or mess with your phone while driving (this should be a regular practice).

Because other drivers on the roadway around you are also going through the loss of a sleeping hour, you should also brush up on your defensive driving tactics. This should include the following:

  • Focusing on the task at hand
  • Expecting other drivers to make mistakes.
  • Reducing speed
  • Using a safe following distance
  • Monitoring blind spots
  • Following all traffic laws
  • Understanding the dangers of wet and icy roads
  • Not getting angry

Car accidents can result in serious injuries. It is not uncommon for a person involved in a Daylight Savings Time vehicle accident to sustain the following:

  • Broken and dislocated bones
  • Severe lacerations or amputations
  • Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
  • Spinal cord injuries (including paralysis)
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Concussions
  • Other open head injuries

Each of these injuries required medical attention. Victims of car accidents often incur major medical expenses. If they cannot work due to their injuries, they risk losing the income they need to support themselves and their families.

As you approach Daylight Savings Time, this year and each subsequent year, we sure to take steps to stay safe on the roadway.