Many people do not enjoy changing the clocks for daylight saving time, especially in the spring when moving the clocks forward means losing an hour of sleep. Research shows that losing this hour of sleep is linked to a spike in the accident rate during the week that follows daylight saving time.
Daylight saving time was introduced during World Wars I and II to help conserve the energy used to light homes. In every state except for Arizona and Hawaii, it is now customary to turn clocks forward an hour in the spring to provide more daylight in the evening, and to turn them back an hour in the fall giving the early morning an extra hour of daylight. Just this one-hour change throws the body’s natural sleep pattern into disarray, and it usually takes the body a full week to adjust.
During this adjustment period, drivers may be less alert and slower to react to emergency situations, which results in a higher-than-usual incidence of car accidents. Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. According to studies done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sleepy drivers cause more than 100,000 crashes every year; according to the AAA, 250,000 people fall asleep at the wheel annually.
Most of us do not get enough sleep — the recommended amount is seven to eight hours. When daylight saving occurs in spring, everyone loses an hour, which leaves the average driver with a real sleep deficit. Studies done by the AAA showed that getting only six to seven hours doubles the risk of being involved in a car accident. The risk of accident for drivers who get less than five hours of sleep is four to five times more than normal. When drowsy driving causes the eyes to leave the road for even a second or two, it is enough to cause a serious crash. Depending on the speed of the vehicle, the occupants could be left with catastrophic injuries.
Truck drivers may especially suffer from losing an hour of sleep. They are often on tight schedules to make deliveries on time. While driving long and irregular shifts, they may not have the chance to adjust to daylight saving time, making the risk of truck accidents higher at this time of year.
Every year there are advocates for eliminating daylight saving time, but until they succeed it is important to prepare for the time change by getting enough sleep the week beforehand to be well rested when the clocks are set back. Then be extra vigilant when driving the week after the time change, especially during the newly darkened morning hours. If you are out walking in the early morning, wear light or reflective clothing to make your presence known to cars and avoid becoming a victim of a pedestrian accident.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free consultation about your case with an experienced Pittsburgh car accident lawyer call AlpernSchubert P.C. at 800-243-6095 or contact us online. We are conveniently located in Pittsburgh serving clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including those in Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.