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Daylight savings impact on car accidents

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

A University of Colorado at Boulder study revealed a 6% increase in auto accidents after daylight savings time changes.

The practice of Daylight Saving Time involves adjusting the clocks forward by one hour in the spring and back by one hour in the fall. While this time shift aims to conserve energy and make better use of natural daylight, it can have unintended consequences, such as increasing car accidents.

Spring forward risks

When clocks spring forward in the spring, people lose one hour of sleep. The sudden time change disrupts sleep patterns, leading to increased sleep deprivation. Fatigued drivers are more likely to make mistakes and have slower reaction times that can lead to accidents.

In the days following the time change, sunrise occurs later in the morning, potentially affecting visibility during the morning commute. This can make it more challenging for drivers to see pedestrians, cyclists, animals and other vehicles.

The shift in time can disrupt the body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm. This can lead to difficulties in adjusting to the altered schedule, affecting alertness and cognitive functioning.

Fall back effects

In the fall, when clocks fall back by one hour, it leads to an extra hour of sleep. While this may seem like a positive change, it can still have a negative impact. That additional sleep can lead to people mistakenly thinking they have gotten adequate rest when they did not.

Sunset occurs earlier in the evening, meaning that many commuters now drive home in darkness. Reduced visibility can increase the risk of accidents.

Daylight Saving Time can have a noticeable impact on car accidents. To mitigate these risks, drivers should be mindful of the time change’s effects and take appropriate precautions to ensure road safety during this period.