A study from the University of Colorado Boulder has found that every year during the first week of daylight saving time, there is a 6% increase in the number of fatal car crashes nationwide. The “spring forward” is already known to cause drowsiness and to contribute to cases of heart attack, stroke and workplace injuries. This new study further shows why Florida and several other states may eliminate DST.
The 6% increase translates to some 28 fatal accidents every year that could have been prevented. The study also mentions how people in the westernmost regions of their time zone, such as the residents of Amarillo, Texas, and St. George, Utah, actually experience an 8% increase in fatal crashes. Such residents sleep an average of 19 fewer minutes than other residents in their time zone, and losing one hour of sleep compounds the problem.
Researchers believe the trend is not a coincidence. Their analysis ranged from 1996 to 2017, and the increase always followed the spring switch, even when it was officially pushed forward to March (from April) in 2007.
Sleep deprivation can put drivers in danger by reducing their attention, slowing their reactions and impairing their risk assessment abilities. To ease into the spring switch, drivers should try to get to bed earlier in the preceding days.
Drivers can never be free from blame when they cause motor vehicle accidents in a state of drowsiness. In Florida, accident victims will usually file with their own insurance company, but in some cases, they may pursue a third-party insurance claim. This state follows the rule of pure comparative negligence, which means that whatever damages plaintiffs recover will be proportioned by their degree of fault. To ensure a strong case and negotiate for a fair settlement, victims may want legal representation.