Regardless of your position on the time change, you should know that each time we set our clocks forward, there is a substantial increase in the risk of having a fatal accident while on the road.
A recent scientific study conducted by the University of Colorado at Boulder and published in the journal Current Biology has shown that fatal car accidents in the United States spike by 6% during the workweek following the “spring forward” to daylight savings time each year. The study analyzed 732,835 accidents recorded through the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System from 1996 to 2017, and exclude Arizona and Indiana, where Daylight Savings Time was not consistently observed.
The study shows that the increase in fatal accidents starts with the morning commute following the time change and is most likely linked to drivers becoming sleep-deprived during the first week.
“They already tend to be more misaligned and sleep-deprived, and when you transition to daylight saving time it makes things worse,” said author Josef Fritz, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology.
The increase was even higher at 9% in the hours before noon, and the study suggests that the additional increase for that time period is connected to fatigue combined with the darker morning hours of the first week of the time change. Additionally, the only time of day that showed no effect was between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Changes in accident patterns also occur after the “fall back” time change according to the study, except that the increase shifts to the evening commute instead of morning. Overall, the study shows that about 627 people died in fatal car accidents associated with the springtime change to Daylight Savings Time.
However you may feel about Daylight Savings Time, please be aware of the increased risk of driving during the first week of the time change, and please do you all that you can to be well-rested, alert and cautious while driving next week.
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