Daylight Savings Time Accidents
Evidence has proved that Daylight Saving Time (DST) not only interrupts a person’s sleep schedule and routines, but it has caused increases in car accidents. According to the National Library of Medicine, health consequences from forced changes in the circadian patterns resulting from DST come not only from physiological adjustments but also from behavioral responses to forced circadian changes.
In the week following the time change in spring, the risk of fatal car accidents increases by 6% in the United States. The suspected cause for this is people are trying to adjust to losing that hour of sleep, therefore the risk of drowsy driving increases. Research has shown that you are three times more likely to be in a car accident if you are fatigued while operating a motor vehicle. Fatigued driving can impact drivers in similar ways to drunk driving by slowing reflexes and impairing a driver’s judgment.
History Behind Daylight Saving Time
The concept first came about during World War I. In April 1916, Germany and Austria were the first to conserve fuel by lessening the nighttime hours. The United States did the same two years later. During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt brought back Daylight-Saving Time, however it was called “War Time.” States had the choice of whether they wanted to observe it. As could be expected, the time change caused chaos for broadcasting companies, railways, and airlines.
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 solidified that every state would spring ahead or fall back. The only two exceptions are Arizona and Hawaii because they opted out during this early phase before President Nixon enacted the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973 on Jan. 4, 1974.
The Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 was voted on by the United States Senate, and it passed. This would end the twice-a-year time change by making daylight saving time the permanent standard beginning in November 2023. The bill is still pending a vote in the House of Representatives and has not been enacted into law at this point.
How to Avoid a Daylight-Saving Time Related Accident
To avoid accidents on the road following DST, experts suggest a few tips:
- Get to Bed Early
Get in bed at least an hour earlier and wake up an hour earlier on the days leading up to DST. This will give your body a chance to adjust to the time shift before it happens.
- Avoid Drinking Alcohol in the Evening
Alcohol disrupts sleep, so it’s not wise to consume alcohol at the end of the day before bed.
- Avoid Caffeine
Avoid caffeine at least six hours before going to bed. Caffeine in your body will impact your ability to fall asleep.
- Don’t Eat a Heavy Meal Before Bed
Avoid heavy meals before going to bed. Digesting a heavy meal could keep you up at night.
- Avoid Exercising Before Bedtime
Exercises should not be strenuous, as you want to avoid getting your heart rate up just before you try to go to sleep.
- Stick to a Routine
Start waking up and going to bed at the same time every night. This may not be possible for many who work in rotating shifts. If you can, go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.
- Maintain a Safe Following Distance
A safe distance is two to three car lengths. Many people do not follow this rule. If the driver in front of you is distracted and drifting out of their lane, the distance should increase another two to three car lengths.
- Watch Your Speed
Slow down at crosswalks and intersections and anticipate that pedestrians may cross mid-block.
- Maintain Your Car Regularly
Clean and maintain windshields, windows, mirrors, and brakes so your vision is clear for the road ahead and your vehicle can stop quickly.
- Avoid Distractions
Checking or sending a text, looking at your phone to dial a call, or finding the right music playlist or podcast are all activities that are ill-advised when the car is moving. There are plenty of other distractions in a car, such as eating, drinking, and having conversations with passengers.
If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact a board certified personal injury attorney to help you. Give our office a call at (817) 440-3888.