Each year as daylight saving time approaches, it brings with it the familiar debate about why it is still necessary, even though it is known to cause an increase in car accidents. Daylight saving time started during World War I to conserve fuel and support the war efforts, but opponents have believed for years that it should be done away with for good. It is the reason for dark winter afternoons and losing an hour’s worth of sleep one night each year. More importantly, that sleep deprivation causes fatigued driving, which can wreak havoc on our roads and highways.
Does Research Show an Increase in Car Accidents at Daylight Saving Time?
Research from the University of Colorado, Boulder, reveals that during the week after the time change, the number of fatal car accidents increases by as much as six percent. The study analyzed 732,835 car accidents in the United States over a 22-year period and showed a consistent rise in these accidents, amounting to approximately 28 deaths per year.
Th researchers on this study also estimated that out of the 8,958 accidents that took place during the period, 626 of them could have been prevented. Since this data contains only the most severe car accidents that took place, its authors believe that the statistics actually underestimate the real scope of the problem.
What Are the Symptoms of Daylight Saving Time Sleep Deprivation?
The change in clock time disrupts sleep patterns, and this is known to reduce daytime alertness and increase the risk for having a stroke or heart attack; some studies also show a spike in the number of suicides. The body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is strongly influenced by the amount of time that it is exposed to natural light. When daylight saving time starts, we wake up in the darkness and have more light in the evenings. This can cause circadian misalignment, delaying the sleep/wake cycle.
It takes time for the body to adjust to the new schedule, and this can mean having symptoms such as fatigue, being unable to focus, feeling stressed, and a slower reaction time. Feeling like this when you are behind the wheel increases the risk of getting into an accident, and the sun glare during this time of year can make it even worse.
To prevent this from happening, you can plan for daylight saving time about a week ahead of time. Try to go to bed about 10 minutes earlier each night as it approaches. On the day that the clocks get set forward, do this on all your clocks after dinner to get used to what will be happening. Then, go to bed an hour earlier. It is also a good idea to keep sunglasses in your car for the glare and to be extra alert for other drivers who may be experiencing that circadian misalignment.
Why Do We Still Have Daylight Saving Time?
That is a very good question, and people have been asking about it for years. However, it seems that once the time changes happen, the issue gets moved onto the back burner for another six months. Even though the studies mentioned above and numerous others support the idea that getting rid of daylight saving time would improve public health, advocates have gained little support in most cases.
Over 30 states have proposed various kinds of related legislation, but a national bill would need an act of Congress to move forward. The 2020 Sunshine Protection Act was one of these, but as of now not much has been done with it. However, Florida has made a change. Based on studies that have shown that a year-round daylight saving time is beneficial, Florida’s legislature voted to make this permanent back in 2018. A year later, the European Union Commission voted to eliminate daylight saving time by 2021.
However, many people like daylight saving time, and this is probably the main reason why most of the United States still follows it. One reason is that dark mornings make it harder for school days to get started. When school buses pick up children early in the dark, it can increase the risk for accidents. Others believe that it prevents crime, conserves energy, and even reduces accidents. Surveys have show that about 55 percent of Americans claim that the time change does not disrupt them, but 40 percent state that they would rather stay in daylight saving time all year.
How Can I Tell if I Am Driving When Fatigued?
It looks like daylight saving time is not going away anytime soon in Maryland, so it is important to look out for fatigued driving symptoms with other drivers and yourself. If you notice that you cannot stop yawning and blinking your eyes, cannot stop daydreaming, have burning eyes or back pain, or are having problems paying attention or focusing while driving, it could because you are too drowsy to drive.
Other signs include nodding off for a second or two, feeling irritated, drifting into other lanes, and not realizing that a traffic light has turned green. Oftentimes people do not realize they are doing these things until it is too late. When you feel too tired to drive, use a rideshare service, ask someone else to drive, or go somewhere safe so that you can take a nap.
If you see that another driver is drifting into another lane, driving too slowly, or ignoring traffic signals and signs, they could also be driving while fatigued. They can also do just the opposite; tired people can also feel irritated and frustrated and might drive aggressively. The best thing to do in these situations is to stay away from these drivers; move safely to another lane and continue driving. The worst thing to do is to engage with these drivers because they could crash into you because you woke them up or become angry and do something else that is dangerous.
Towson Car Accident Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, Advocate for Clients in Personal Injury Cases
If you have experienced a serious injury in a car accident due to a negligent driver, reach out to the experienced Towson car accident lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Our legal team will be your advocate to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.