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Daylight saving time linked with more fatal crashes

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have determined that the start of daylight saving time increases the number of fatal car crashes for at least the first week. Michigan residents are no doubt aware that losing an hour of sleep can disrupt their sleep schedule and cause drowsiness, so they may be interested to hear more about this study. The results have been published in Current Biology.

Analyzing hundreds of thousands of crashes occurring between 1996 and 2017, researchers noticed a consistent rise in fatal car crashes in the week after DST. This held true even when the start of DST was officially moved from April to March in 2007. The increase came to 6%, or some 28 fatal car crashes, every year nationwide.

Residents in the westernmost portion of each time zone saw an increase of 8%, largely because they are already relatively sleep-deprived. On average, they sleep 19 fewer minutes than others do. Also, the sun rises and sets later at these westernmost edges.

The results echo those of other studies that reveal the negative impact of DST on health and safety. For example, DST has been linked with a greater instance of work-related injuries and people reporting heart problems in the first week of the spring switch.

There are a number of things that drivers can do to prepare for the switch, including getting to bed earlier in the days leading up to it. Drivers are to blame if, through drowsiness, they cause motor vehicle collisions and injure others. Those victims, for their part, may file a claim against the guilty party and strive for a settlement covering monetary and non-monetary damages. Michigan is a no-fault state and does not allow everyone to file a third-party insurance claim, so victims may do well to consult a lawyer.

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