Pennsylvania residents are no doubt feeling drowsy in the wake of the “spring forward” of daylight saving time. While most will get used to the change and think nothing of it afterwards, the change may have fatal consequences for others. This is the conclusion of a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The study found that every year, the first week of DST sees a 6% increase in the number of fatal car crashes nationwide. This comes to some 28 fatal crashes that, researchers believe, could have been prevented had there been no switch to DST.
The study also mentioned that those who live farther west in a time zone, especially in cities on the edge like Amarillo, Texas, and St. George, Utah, see an 8% rise in fatal accidents. These residents tend to sleep less than those in the rest of the time zone, an average of 19 fewer minutes of sleep, so DST naturally affects them more.
Researchers were clear that the link is not coincidental. From 1996 to 2017, the rise was always seen after the spring switch. It moved together with DST when the latter was officially rescheduled from April to March in 2007. Currently, several states like Florida and Washington are considering abolishing DST.
There is no doubt that the loss of one hour of sleep can contribute to drowsy driving, which is a form of negligent behavior. Those who incur a personal injury in a car accident caused by a drowsy driver may be able to file a claim against that driver’s auto insurance company. The victim’s lawyer may bring in investigators to show, for example, how a lack of sleep might have led the defendant to be negligent.