Depending on the time of year, changing the clocks for Daylight Savings Time (DST) is viewed as either a blessing or a curse. During Autumn, it's wonderful to earn an extra hour of sleep when DST comes around, but when it come time to "Spring forward" is when problems arises. Research shows that it can take people a couple of weeks to adjust to the spring time change - which is essentially the same as subjecting everyone to jet lag. Losing that hour of sleep can lead to drowsy driving and may potentially cause a sleepy driving car accident if drivers fall asleep at the steering wheel. The lack of sleep can also hinder a driver's alertness on the road. These side effects help explain why 40% of pedestrians were killed in 2015, following the end of DST.
It's also a misconception to think that just because we gain an hour of sleep in the Autumn, that this phase of Daylight Savings Time is without its drawbacks. One factor researchers believe to be behind the increase in traffic deaths during "fall back" time, is the lack of natural light that is available in the morning. Darker roads are more difficult to maneuver, and may increase the chances of a motor vehicle accident.
“Even though it’s dark, you’re still behaving like it’s light,” says Lawrence University economist David Gerard, addressing sleepy driver behavior following the first weeks after DST.
How To Adjust To Daylight Savings Time
Experts suggest that people should prepare a few days before Daylight Savings Time by getting in a few extra hours of sleep, especially for those who already only get around 3-4 hours of sleep every night.
"A lot of these accidents occur because we don't have residual sleep [reserves] to survive that insult," Richard P. Allen, a John Hopkins neurologist, said to Vox Media. "When we're running nearly empty on our sleep-wake status, it doesn't take much to push it into a negative area."
With evidence that supports the link between DST and dangerous drowsy driving accidents on the road, it’s no wonder states such as Arizona and Hawaii have opted out of participating in the time change. Most of Africa and many areas in Asia have also refused to observe the time change. Daylight Savings Time might seem like a harmless hour out of our days, but taking steps to be more awake while driving are vital to help minimize health risks from abnormal sleeping patterns and the car accidents that follow. Since Autumn daylight savings is coming up in three days, on Sunday, November 5th, now might be the time for Michiganders to start catching a few extra zzz's to prepare!
Daylight Savings Time has come a long way from power saving initiatives during WWI, but it can still negatively affect people's health. The disruption to a person's biological rhythm can cause harm to themselves or to someone else in the event of a drowsy driving car accident. If you or somebody you know has been injured by a sleep-deprived driver, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.