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Does daylight saving time cause an increase in car accidents?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

This time of year, many people are still adjusting to the time change. On March 8, most of the country moved its clocks ahead by one hour. People complain about feeling tired for a period of time after the switch. However, there may be even more pressing concerns. Researchers say evidence shows that changing our clocks leads to an increase in injuries at work, as well as health complications such as heart attacks. Some studies claim that the rates of fatal car crashes increase sharply after the springtime change.

This is all reason enough for lawmakers in many states to consider doing away with the clock shift altogether. Although California voted in 2018 to permanently stay on daylight savings time, the state still participated in the biannual clock shift this month. Can anything prevent the expected spike in car accidents? Here is information that may help you keep your family safe.

How bad is the problem?

A recent study showed that car accident rates go up by almost 6% the week after DST takes effect. The study examined over 730,000 car crashes that occurred between 1996 and 2017. Interestingly, the increase was higher after the springtime change moved from April to March.

Researchers say the 6% jump translates to about 28 additional people dying each year. Though that may not seem very high, if one of those 28 people is someone you care about, it’s easy to see the significance. There could even be an increased risk for people here in California, as research indicates that people on the western edge of their time zone have a greater risk of being in a fatal crash due to DST.

Can anything prevent these crashes?

Fortunately, researchers and health professionals say there are a few suggestions that can help you and your loved ones cope with the time change. In the days leading up to DST, getting more sleep or at least good quality sleep matters. Even being mindful of overexposure to light sources at nighttime can keep your circadian rhythms in check. Taking naps and monitoring your intake of caffeine and alcohol will also make a difference in how well you adjust.

Never a good time for a car accident

Even with all of these helpful ideas, if you or someone you care about is in a car crash at any time of year, it can be devastating. Mitigating circumstances like daylight saving time may not matter if a driver who hit you behaved negligently. If you aren’t sure where to turn, an attorney who specializes in personal injury law, with extensive knowledge of how to handle cases involving car accidents, may be your best option.