When thinking about the causes of car accidents, daylight savings time is not something that often comes to mind. Despite drunk driving and distracted driving both being major sources of driver negligence, when the clocks ‘fall back’ in November, accidents are bound to occur. Understanding just how daylight savings time (DST) is linked to an increase in auto crashes involving both drivers and pedestrians can help keep others safer during the colder winter months.
Daylight savings is something everyone in the U.S. is familiar with. In the warmer months, clocks spring forward to provide an extra hour of daylight in the evenings, while in the colder months that hour falls back. While this time change can seem innocuous, it actually impacts sleep habits, emotions, and how people operate and interact on a daily basis.
In fact, each year on the Monday following spring forward, U.S. hospitals report spikes in heart attacks. On the other hand, after fall back, there is a 21% drop in the number of heart attacks seen at hospitals – a trend likely attributable to an extra hour of sleep. Despite getting more sleep, a correlation has emerged between an increase in potential car accidents and the clocks falling back.
The disruption to the body’s internal clock, as well as changes in sunlight while driving to and from work, can make operating a vehicle in the weeks following fall back more dangerous than usual. In fact, studies have found a correlation between increased fatal car accidents and DST.
Once this time change occurs in the fall and it begins to get darker earlier in the day, the likelihood of car accidents occurring increases as more drivers are spending time on the road in the dark. Studies done over the years have shown that more people are active in the evening; however, without the added sunlight in the colder months, driver visibility is greatly reduced, thus increasing the potential for an accident to occur. In fact, according to a study in Accident Analysis and Prevention, having that hour of sunlight in the evening year-round would actually save the lives of over 170 pedestrians and nearly 200 vehicle occupants each year.
With the impacts of these time changes in mind, it’s important that both drivers and pedestrians are aware of the measures they should take to ensure their safety both on and off the roadways. Some of the ways drivers and pedestrians can stay safe after ‘fall back’ include:
Once the clocks fall back, it can be tempting to stay in bed a little longer than normal; however, it’s actually best to avoid this, especially if you know you have to drive that day. By getting out of bed when you normally would, you can actually jumpstart the time adjustment process.
Before driving off to work or to run errands later in the day, it’s important that the headlights and brake lights are working properly. It is not only illegal to drive without fully functioning front and rear lights, it’s also incredibly dangerous. By ensuring both sets of lights are working, drivers can ensure others on the road can see them.
Poor visibility at night means the distance a driver can see is shortened. When this happens, it can seem like things in the road or pedestrians can appear out of nowhere. In order to avoid this, drivers should stick to a slower speed that can allow them to brake and maneuver when necessary to avoid causing a car accident.
When out walking at night, whether for leisure or to and from work, pedestrians should wear bright or reflective clothing to ensure drivers can see them. When bright or reflective clothing is worn, pedestrians can easily avoid appearing “invisible” to drivers, especially at low light periods of the day and night.
When daylight savings happens, it causes abrupt changes people are seemingly unaware of. These changes in sunlight can have drastic affects on our mood, as well as how we interact with others both on and off the road. Unfortunately, car accidents can occur at anytime – and when the unexpected happens, it’s important to have an experienced Houston personal injury attorney by your side. At Ramsey Law Group, we have successfully handled roadway accidents involving negligent drivers for over 20 years. If you or someone you know has been in a car accident caused by the fault of another driver, contact us today to see how we can best assist you.