Daylight Saving Time (DST) will begin on Sunday, March 13. There are reasons to rejoice about this change, and reasons to lament. More sunshine and more daylight after a deep, dark, quarantined winter is something to look forward to. Unfortunately, losing an hour of sleep and all the side effects that come with it are a recipe for danger on Michigan roads and often leads to fatal car crashes.
Fatal Car Crashes Connected to Daylight Saving Time
One hour of change shouldn’t make that much difference in the grand scheme of the many hours we are awake versus asleep. Unfortunately, though, losing an hour absolutely interferes with a person’s sleep schedule, their level of rest, and their ability to concentrate, especially when they’re driving.
University of Colorado Boulder research found that Daylight Saving Time is linked to a 6% increase in car accidents during the work week following the switch in the United States, close to 30 deaths annually. This data was gathered after a study of 20 years of data. The study also found that the accident rates often decreased after the first week of Daylight Saving Time.
If you’re operating on this information, it can be assumed that it takes at least a week – though likely longer – to adjust to the time change, the light change, and every other change that occurs when the clocks spring forward.
Changing Sleep Patterns Cause Auto Accidents
Losing just one hour of sleep can have a significant impact on a driver’s ability to make smart, safe choices behind the wheel. It is incredibly difficult for many people to get a good night’s sleep in the days after switching to DST. When someone is driving drowsy or extremely fatigued, the following is more likely:
- Slower reflexes
- Poor concentration
- Reduced visibility
- Don’t notice pedestrians
- Cut off other drivers
Even though evenings are light and our days feel extended, there is a lack of light in the morning – this can affect driver safety too. Motorists who aren’t used to driving in the dark are at a much higher risk of a crash. Add in distracted driving and drunk driving and the problems compound from there, making an auto accident that much more likely.