Drowsy driving can be like drunk driving in the way it affects a driver’s attention span and reaction times. With the start of daylight saving time taking away one hour of sleep, California residents may feel more drowsy during their morning commute for at least the first week. This would align with the findings of a new study, published in Current Biology, that has linked DST with a higher number of fatal car crashes.
After analyzing over 730,000 crashes that occurred in the U.S. between 1996 and 2017, researchers found that in the first week of DST, there is a 6% increase in fatal car crashes. This comes to an average of 28 fatal crashes every year. The uptick was consistent with the start of DST even when the latter was rescheduled (from April to March) in 2007.
The study noted that those on the westernmost edge of a time zone, such as the residents of Amarillo, Texas, and St. George, Utah, see an 8% increase in fatal crashes during the first week of DST. People in these regions tend to be more sleep-deprived as the sun rises and sets later.
DST has been linked to more than just drowsy driving, though. Studies have shown increases in heart problems and on-the-job injuries during the first week of DST.
Those who are injured in motor vehicle accidents and who find out that the other driver was drowsy at the time of the crash may be able to seek compensation. Drowsy driving is a form of negligence, and victims should not be stuck with the cost of medical treatments. With a third-party insurance claim, they could be eligible for non-monetary damages as well, especially pain and suffering. A lawyer may evaluate their case and assist with negotiations.