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Fatal Car Accidents Increase When We Switch to Daylight Savings Time

Every March, Americans greet Daylight Savings Time with mixed emotions. Some people grumble about losing an hour of sleep when clocks spring forward. Others are happy to have more time in the evening to enjoy outdoor activities. One negative effect linked to Daylight Savings Time is much more serious, however, and now several states are considering dropping the semi-annual clock switches because of it.

According to a study in the journal Current Biology, fatal automobile crashes increase by 6 percent in the week following the shift to Daylight Savings Time. Using the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System, researchers found that when DST was moved from April back to March, the bump in deadly traffic accidents moved back as well. Dr. Josef Fritz, an author of the study, likened the effect to jet lag and said that it lasts for about two weeks following the time change. Factors that contribute to these collisions include:

  • Drowsy driving — Reflexes and reaction times suffer when a driver is tired just like they do when he or she has had too much to drink. There are many public campaigns to cut down on drunk driving, and people often feel a responsibility to stop others from getting behind the wheel after they’ve consumed alcohol, but friends rarely take the keys from someone because they look exhausted.
  • Late motorists — When we move the clocks forward, our bodies take some time to adjust. That could mean oversleeping or failing to recognize what time it is based on the light outside. Someone who is late to work or an appointment might speed or drive unsafely in other ways to make up for lost time.
  • Medical incidents behind the wheel — Other types of problems have been tied to time changes, including strokes and heart attacks. A sudden, serious medical incident puts the driver, their passengers and others on the road at risk.

If you were in an auto accident that occurred shortly after the onset of Daylight Savings Time, or at any other time of year, the Long Island attorneys of Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP are here for you. We assist plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death litigation throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. Our firm will thoroughly analyze the physical, scientific and witness evidence to identify what contributed to your vehicle crash.