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Does daylight saving time affect car accident rates?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Personal Injury |

Daylight saving time, practiced by most states, involves setting the clock forward by one hour to extend evening daylight, and then setting it back in the fall. While the intention behind DST is to conserve energy and make better use of daylight, research shows it also has an impact on car accident rates.

Increased car accident risk post-DST transitions

Research indicates that the transition into DST can lead to an increase in car accidents. A study from the University of Colorado, Boulder, found that in the week following the “spring forward” into DST, fatal car crashes spike by nearly 6%. This increase is attributed to sleep deprivation and the misalignment of the body’s biological rhythms, which can result in drowsy driving.

Drowsy driving, much like drunk driving, impairs decision-making and attention to the road, increasing the risk of accidents.

Virginia’s statistics

In Virginia, similar trends have been observed. The disruption in sleep patterns due to the time change can lead to a temporary increase in car accidents. This is particularly concerning given Virginia’s already busy roads and varying weather conditions, which can compound the risks associated with DST-related drowsiness.

Safety recommendations

To mitigate the risks, it is recommended that drivers prioritize sleep in the days leading up to the DST transition. Employers can also play a role by allowing for more flexible schedules during this time to accommodate the adjustment period.

While DST has its benefits, it also poses risks to road safety. Both nationally and in Virginia, the data suggests a tangible increase in car accidents following the time change. As we continue to observe DST, it is crucial for drivers to be aware of these risks and take proactive steps to ensure their safety and the safety of others on the road.