Ohio residents will no doubt feel drowsy after the spring forward to daylight saving time, but what they should beware of is driving in this condition. A new study published in Current Biology found an increase in fatal car crashes within the first week of DST. This increase is 6%, or about 28 additional crashes a year that end in death in the U.S.
Another finding is that the farther west one lives in a time zone, the greater danger there is of drowsy driving. The sun rises and sets later in these regions, and residents there already sleep an average of 19 fewer minutes than residents elsewhere in a time zone. Researchers determined that these regions see an 8% spike in fatal auto accidents after DST.
The data for the study covered the years 1996 to 2017. Researchers saw how consistent the uptick was: It moved together with the start of DST when the time change was switched from the first Sunday of April to the second Sunday of March in 2007.
This and other studies, which link the spring forward with a rise in workplace injuries and heart problems, are adding fuel to the fire as several states consider abolishing DST. However, there is the question of whether each state opts for permanent standard time or permanent DST.
DST-related drowsy driving can lead to victims being injured in a motor vehicle accident, so the problem may be greater than the study reveals. Even so, victims of another’s negligence have the ability to seek compensation. In this state, victims are eligible recover damages as long as their degree of contributory fault is deemed less than 50%. With a lawyer by their side, they may be able to gather all the necessary evidence and negotiate for a settlement covering all applicable losses.