Daylight Savings Time is always inconvenient whenever it happens, but it is never truly a surprise. And yet, every year, the rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents goes up during the week after switching to Daylight Savings Time. This increased incidence of motor vehicle fatalities shows the importance of staying alert and getting proper rest, even once the clocks get moved ahead.

Understanding the Effect of Daylight Savings

According to a recent study from researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the incidence of motor vehicle fatalities goes up by approximately 6% in the week after Daylight Savings Time. This change in traffic fatalities is consistent across all demographics, and exists even after controlling for other potential contributing factors, such as weather or traffic. It cannot even be attributed directly to the time of year, as switching the date of Daylight Savings from early April to mid-March also changed the spike in motor vehicle fatalities along with it.

Why is Daylight Savings Time So Dangerous?

There are two primary factors that contribute to the danger caused by Daylight Savings Time: a disruption to people’s sleep schedules, and more driving in darkness in the morning. In the case of sleep disruption, the loss of an hour of sleep leads to more people driving while exhausted, making them more distractible and more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel. As for the issue of driving in the dark, it is as simple as people not having the same vision when it’s dark out, increasing the risk of an accident.

Does This Also Happen When We Switch Back in Autumn?

A similar phenomenon occurs whenever people switch back to Standard Time in the autumn. However, most of the increase in accidents occurs later at night, when it is darker out, and gets counterbalanced by a drop in accidents in the morning. In addition, there is not the same problem with exhaustion due to people getting more sleep after the switch to Standard Time, not less.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself From Daylight Savings?

The most important thing you can do to avoid an accident after switching to Daylight Savings Time is to get a good night’s sleep, if you are able. The increase in accidents drops off after a week due to people adjusting to a new schedule, but you can help avoid accidents by going to bed earlier. You should also be especially cautious in the morning hours, when a combination of sleep deprivation and dim light can become a recipe for disaster.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should seek out the auto accident lawyers at Zlotolow & Associates. Our seasoned New York personal injury attorneys bring more than two decades of trial experience to your case. We serve all five boroughs of New York City, as well as Nassau and Suffolk County. Our aggressive personal injury attorneys always demand maximum compensation. We have helped thousands of clients recover through settlements and courtroom verdicts.