Daylight Savings: Staying Safe When Springing Forward in March

First implemented in the United States in 1918 with the enactment of the Standard Time Act, daylight savings time (DST) is the practice of setting clocks forward one hour in the spring and back one hour in the fall. The annual ritual may seem harmless, but two-thirds of modern Americans want to see the practice ended.

While lawmakers may end daylight savings with the Sunshine Protection Act, Missourians will still have to set their clocks forward this spring and lose an hour of sleep. Many will also lose their lives on the road due to driving fatigue and a lack of light in the morning.  

Learn how to stay safe on Missouri roads after DST and how Cofman Townsley can help you recover compensation if you’re involved in an accident.

Daylight Savings and Car Accidents

In the week following daylight savings time, there is an increase in collisions on the road nationwide. A study of 732,835 motor vehicle fatalities between 1996 and 2017 found that the risk of accidents increased by 6% post-daylight savings, especially in the mornings. Several variables cause this rise in fatal accidents, including:

  • Impaired Visibility

The spring daylight savings time shifts the clock time one hour later, making the mornings darker. As a result, many workers commute in the dark, causing reduced visibility. This shift contributes to an increased risk for fatal collisions before 12 p.m. during spring daylight savings time, more than any other week of the year.

  • Decreased Alertness

Without enough sleep, drivers are less alert and more likely to cause motor vehicle accidents, fatalities, and serious injuries. For instance, blinking duration is an indicator of driver alertness. If a driver has a slower blinking frequency, they may have severe sleepiness.

A study found that younger sleep-deprived drivers tended to blink longer and had difficulty paying attention on the road. Near accidents and sudden speed changes were also more common among these drivers.

  • Slower Reaction Time

Drowsy driving is a significant risk factor for motorists at any time of year. However, after daylight savings in the spring, more people drive while tired due to losing an hour of sleep. This sleep loss and disruption of the natural circadian rhythm slows driver reaction time and plays a part in the increase of fatality accidents during this time of year.

According to the Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep can lead to driving behaviors similar to operating a vehicle under the influence. For example, staying awake for 20 hours produces impairment equal to 0.08% blood alcohol content.

How to Protect Yourself and Others When Driving After Daylight Savings

With a notable increase in accident risk after daylight savings, drivers should take preventative measures against sleep-related car accidents. To reduce your chances of being involved in a daylight savings accident, consider the following tips:

  • Get into a consistent sleep routine. To avoid sleep-related car accidents, develop a consistent sleep schedule. Aim to get between 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Plan for daylight savings by going to bed an hour or two early the night before the clocks jump forward.
  • Cultivate healthy sleep. Practice healthy sleep habits to ensure your sleep is restorative and you wake feeling energized and alert. Avoid caffeine past the early afternoon, avoid blue light from TVs or mobile devices, and avoid eating large meals before bed.
  • Use quality headlights while driving. Besides sleep, the lack of morning visibility after the spring forward is a leading cause of accidents. Inspect your headlights and taillights and replace dim, burnt-out, or dying bulbs.
  • Don’t drive alone. No matter what you do to combat daylight savings-related fatigue, you may feel groggy in the morning. To avoid distracted or tired driving, carpool with a friend. A second person in the car can warn you if you seem sleepy or take over driving if necessary. If you can’t carpool, turn on the radio and roll down a window to prevent yourself from nodding off during your commute.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Cofman Townsley

The auto accident attorneys at Cofman Townsley are dedicated to keeping Missouri roads safe for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. If you are injured in a car crash, we are prepared to pursue all possible avenues to get you the financial compensation you deserve.

Contact Cofman Townsley today for a complimentary case review. You can message us through our real-time, live chat assistant 24/7 or call us to set up your free consultation.