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Does daylight saving time really cause more accidents?

Although Germany has been credited with being the first nation to institute daylight savings time, the Canadians became the first people to use DST when the people of today’s Thunder Bay, Ontario, turned their clocks forward one hour on July 1, 1908.

The concept was not universally adopted until April 30, 1916, when Germany and Austria moved forward by one hour to support the war effort by minimizing artificial lighting use. France, the UK, and other European countries followed suit. The switch takes place at 2:00 a.m. on Sundays to minimize disruption.

A lot of people dislike daylight saving time because it disrupts their sleep schedule, but there may be a graver reason to oppose it. Although the difference is only by an hour, researchers point out that it can take many days for our internal clocks to adjust to the time difference. During this adjustment period, the number of fatal automobile accidents goes up.

When Instamotor polled 1,000 Americans about how they perceived DST’s effect on their daily lives, the results were eye-opening:

  • Over 40% reported feeling uncharacteristically tired
  • Nearly 22% said they felt more depressed
  • 23% said they experienced a decline in productivity
  • Most alarming of all: nearly 41% said that they believed DST made their driving less safe

University of Colorado at Boulder researchers studied the DST phenomenon for 10 years and reported a 17% increase in collision-related deaths the Monday after the clocks moved forward in the spring. Traffic fatalities were also higher that week.

This alarming trend has been attributed to reduced visibility due to people heading out in the morning while it’s still dark, but experts warn that the majority of the fatal accidents happen because people are groggy behind the wheel. They estimated that around 30 people have died between 2002 and 2011 after being in a crash involving a sleepy post-DST driver.

These statistics suggest that extra precautions should be taken when the clocks change, such as going to bed earlier and taking a taxi or public transit if you feel too tired to drive. If you must drive, then take the following safety measures:

  • Turn off all interior lights in your car and dim the navigation aids so that their brightness doesn’t distract you.
  • Pay close attention to other drivers. You may be alert and focused, but they might not be. Take special precautions if you see another car stopping abruptly or swaying between lanes.

If you are still involved in an accident due to daylight savings time, then a New York personal injury attorney will help you get the settlement or award you need to heal from your injuries and move on with your life.

Cal the law office of Jayson Lutzky if you were injured in an accident at 718-329-9500. Mr. Lutzky offers free in-person initial consultations. Home and hospital visits are available in the case of serious injury.

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