Does Daylight Saving Time Cause a Spike in Car Accidents?

t-bone car accident

Daylight saving time gets mixed reviews. Although some people enjoy the extra hour of rest in the fall and some tolerate the loss of an hour in the spring to gain more daylight, daylight saving time changes can be more than just a pain to remember.

New studies show the increased likelihood of adverse effects because of the time changes that occur twice per year. Because of the disturbance to our sleep, car accidents spike in the days following a time change.

Spring Forward Car Accident Spike

The tradition of losing an hour of sleep and springing forward into daylight saving time has been linked to negative side effects such as heart attacks and strokes. However, a new study suggests a nearly six percent increase in fatal car accidents in the week following the time change in the spring.

Data was collected for nearly one million car accidents over the course of 21 years. Every year, the week following the time change in the spring showed a clear jump in the number of car accidents. In 2007, when Congress moved the spring forward date to March from April, the spike in car accidents similarly shifted. This solidified the link between the time change and an increase in car accidents. 

What Causes Car Accidents to Spike

The researchers of this new study refer to the week after changing to daylight saving time and the loss of one of hour of sleep for one night as a mini jetlag. Many people have experienced that feeling of jetlag when we cross time zones on long flights. This feeling is even more pronounced when we are on a redeye flight, especially if we do not sleep well. The concept here is nearly the same.

Your body needs rest, and it craves routine. That is why so many experts suggest going to bed and waking up at the same time every single day, including weekends. That routine will help you sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed and well rested.

What happens to the body when we spring forward is that our sleep and wake routine is thrown off. Even one hour can throw the body’s routine off, taking up to two weeks to get back to normal. 

Even more interesting, the new research suggests that the further west a person lives, the greater their risk of getting into a car accident during the week after we spring forward. This occurs because people living in the West experience later sunrises and sunsets, making for a disruptive circadian rhythm. Disruptive and inadequate sleep is a recipe for disaster.

Driving While Drowsy

We all know that driving drunk is against the law. More than that, it is incredibly dangerous to the drunk driver but also to anyone else nearby. Alcohol reduces a driver’s ability to think and react quickly in dangerous situations. Drowsy driving has the same impact on your body.

When a person gets less than a full night’s sleep, their ability to react to situations behind the wheel is similar to that of a person who is legally drunk. This is caused by the time change, especially the spring forward change. Leading to delayed reaction times and a lack of focus, drowsy drivers are more likely to cause serious accidents.

What You Can Do to Adjust to the Time Change

Much like taking a long-haul redeye flight, you can prepare for the spring forward time change. Taking certain steps will help reduce the effect of the time change and lack of sleep on your body, making it more likely you will stay safe on the road. Even recognizing that your body will need time to adjust is a good step.

Start by adjusting to the new time a few days early. Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier each day. This will help your body start adjusting in small increments.

Avoid heavy meals right before bed. Also, avoid coffee in the afternoon and alcohol right before bed. If you are groggy after the time change, take a quick nap in the middle of the day. That can help your body adjust.

Above all, as has been suggested for many years, maintaining a regular sleep schedule throughout the year will help you best prepare. Ultimately, your body will adjust. You just need to give it time. 

You Cannot Prevent Other Drivers’ Negligence

You can take all the right steps. You can recognize the effect the time change has on your body and be proactive about reducing your health risks. What you cannot do is help other people do the same. Therefore, you still need to be active and alert when driving because other drivers may not be taking the same precautions.

Because there is an increased risk of car accidents in the week after daylight saving time begins, it becomes more likely that you may be struck by a drowsy driver. You may be entitled to compensation from them for their negligence in causing your car accident.

To prove negligence, you will need to show:

  • The other driver owed you a duty of care to drive safely.
  • The other driver breached that duty of care by failing to drive safely.
  • The other driver’s unsafe driving caused an accident.
  • You suffered injuries or damages in the car accident.

This may seem obvious to you since you were there, you saw what happened, and you know the other driver was negligent. However, you need to have evidence to prove these elements of negligence to a legal standard. That may require the assistance of a skilled legal team, people who can work diligently to collect all relevant evidence while you focus on your health and wellbeing. 

Filing a personal injury claim may be the way for you to prove another driver was negligent and caused your car accident. Although a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind after a car accident, it is important to start the process quickly so that your legal team can speak with any witnesses to your accident. Witnesses often provide unique perspectives that can shed light on the exact cause of your accident. 

Maybe the driver was swerving in their lane, or they rolled through a stop sign. These could be signs the driver was drowsy and was affected by the time change. Your lawyer will also work tirelessly to try and collect appropriate compensation for your injuries. Your lawyer may try to get you compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning potential
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Present and future medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation costs

You may not want to deal with the complexities of a lawsuit. However, you may be facing serious medical care and treatment, which often come with astronomical costs. To help you avoid paying out of pocket for these expenses and your other financial losses related to your car accident, a lawyer may be able to help you get the compensation necessary.

Baltimore Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Work to Get You the Help You Need

Car accidents bring challenges, including recovering from your injuries and dealing with repairs to your vehicle. If you have been involved in a car accident, reach out to the Baltimore accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our experienced team will investigate the cause of the accident and help you recover by securing the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.