December 9, 2022

Why Daylight Savings Time Is Linked To Fatal Car Accidents

5 min read

You may have heard of the idea that car accidents seem more common during certain times of year. At first glance, this may seem like an old wives’ tale or something your mother would tell you in order to make sure you drive cautiously. As a matter of fact, there is good reason to believe that the rate of car accidents does rise during certain points in the year. The Fourth of July is the worst day of the year to drive, according to Esurance and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Between 2007 and 2011, 40% of all highway deaths occurred over the Fourth of July weekend and were caused by drunk driving. But it makes sense, in theory, that the holidays would be the perfect time for a fatal car accident to occur. People are on the road, visiting families and parties; they’re also more likely to drink heavily, and then try to make their way on to their next destination. Nonetheless, the United States sees around 6 million car accidents yearly. Therefore, it stands to reason that there are other factors at play in car accidents, aside from holiday-related drunkenness. Weather is another common factor relating to vehicular accidents, featuring in around 21% of American car accidents. This can particularly key into the risks at play in a state like Colorado, where severe weather is more common.

“Anytime variables on the road change – be it weather conditions, the amount of daylight, or increased driver fatigue – the risk of getting in an accident is heightened,” says Wayne Cohen of Cohen & Cohen. “As a personal injury lawyer, many of our clients reach out to us after suffering injuries as a result of negligence spawned by any number of these variables.”

While you may have already figured that the holidays and the weather can play into the issues surrounding car accidents in the United States, you may not have thought of daylight savings keying into auto accidents. However, daylighting savings time can play an important role in the events leading up to auto accidents, all the more because many do not make adjustments for daylight savings time. Let’s explore the issues surrounding daylight savings time, and why it can lead to further problems with car accidents.

Does Daylight Savings Time Really Cause Auto Accidents?

It may seem odd to think that daylight savings time could contribute to auto accidents. But there is definite data linking them together. A study examining fatal auto accidents between 1996 and 2017 noticed a 6% upswing in fatal car accidents the week of daylight savings. Furthermore, this uptick followed daylight savings time when it moved from April to March, indicating that the act of daylight savings itself, versus any other factors, was the dominant issue. Another important detail to note is that the end of daylight savings time in November did not produce the same results. Remember that the beginning of daylight savings time is sometimes called “spring forward”, as it involves moving the clocks forward an hour. This essentially causes people to feel as if they are losing an hour. Fall back allows them to move the clocks back and gain that hour back in turn. Either way, the body and your lifestyle is facing an adjustment. So why doesn’t fall back produce the same results as spring forward does in terms of car accidents?

Why Does Daylight Savings Time Cause Car Accidents?

There are several reasons why daylight savings time may make drivers more prone to auto accidents. The most obvious problem is fatigue. Drivers will have their internal clocks thrown off balance by daylight savings time, which means that they will get less sleep the night before. They’re on the road fatigued and thrown off course of their usual routines. The fact is that human beings rely on a sort of internal autopilot when driving familiar routes; for example, your commute to work. Even when you’re paying attention to the road, as you always should, you will to a degree fall back on your familiarity with your path. This becomes more difficult when you are fatigued. People rarely expect exactly how tire daylight savings time will make them, but it can be compared to jetlag. Daylight savings time has also been linked to an increase in heart attacks, strokes, and as previously mentioned sleep deprivation. Furthermore, as drivers are thrown off of their routines they are more likely to be running late and frustrated, as well as reckless. While all drivers are responsible for their own actions, it’s almost undeniable that daylight savings time increases the risk for fatal auto accidents. Therefore, it may seem strange that daylight savings time is still in place.

Why Hasn’t Daylight Savings Time Been Abolished?

Daylight savings time was originally created for reasons that are no longer relevant. Different countries have used daylight savings time for different reasons; in the United States, it was implemented to save fuel for the war effort in 1918. It also helped define time zones in the United States. As such fuel is no longer needed for any sort of war effort and the time zones are well-established, daylight savings time can be done without. However, it cannot be abolished without legal actions. Daylight savings time has become something of a tradition, and numerous states have considered removing daylight savings time from their schedules. Yet, as it does not seem like much of a priority, there lacks the legal push necessary to implement these changes. The fact is that there needs to be awareness regarding the link between daylight savings time and fatal car accidents. If daylight saving time is properly connected to this problem, change may be prioritized. Hopefully, there will be a reduction in fatal auto accidents in turn.

According to the CDC, the third leading cause of death in Colorado is accidents. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that fatal car accidents will be reduced by the removal of daylight savings time. But as daylight savings time is no longer necessary, there is literally nothing to lose through its abolishment. Therefore, it is important that states are called to action, and are forced to consider the serious side effects of what is little more than a longstanding custom. Though car accidents will not be eradicated by these measures, their reduction is important to consider. And of course, make sure you are never driving without insurance.

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