Why Is the Change to Daylight Saving Time Challenging to Drivers?

February 28, 2022
Media Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Those Injured by Drowsy Drivers .

For years, Americans across the country have been familiar with daylight saving time. Whether it is moving the clocks an hour forward at the start of daylight saving time or an hour back at the end, communities in almost every state has practiced this since World War I.  What most people are not accustomed to, however, is what the time shift does to our bodies.

Our circadian rhythm, otherwise known as our internal body clock, is disrupted by the hour-long change, particularly at the start of daylight saving time when the clocks are moved ahead by one hour. The lost hour of sleep leaves us drowsy and tired, which makes driving very dangerous.  In fact, the week following the time change has seen a significant rise in car accidents in the country; according to a study by Johns Hopkins, that week sees a six percent increase in fatal car accidents.  On the Monday alone following the switch, a study by the University of British Columbia found that there is a 17 percent increase in all traffic accidents. 

Although there are benefits of the lost hour, mainly giving us more time in the daylight, the drowsiness caused by daylight saving time is more harmful than good for drivers.  Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents.  According to the National Safety Council, drowsy driving is responsible for over 13 percent of all car accidents. 

How Do I Drive Safely following the Time Change?

With the hustle of modern living, many people forgo sleep just to keep up.   The hour lost of sleep from daylight saving time only compounds the issue of drowsy driving.  When fatigued, a driver loses the ability to react fully, judge distances, and maintain focus to drive safely.  Here are a few tips to help combat the drowsy effects of the time change:

  • Get to sleep earlier. To account for the hour lost from daylight saving time, try going to bed earlier during the week leading up to the switch.  This will help lessen the dramatic shift that plays on the human body and prepares it better for when daylight saving time begins. 
  • Recognize the signs of drowsiness. It is important to know the signs of drowsiness before it starts, particularly when driving.  The signs include yawning, daydreaming, and rubbing of the eyes, as well as forgetting the past few miles.  Drifting or swaying into another lane is another likely sign of fatigue.
  • Take a break. If you do start to feel drowsy, pull over to a safe, well-lit area and rest.  Sometimes getting out of the car and stretching your legs can help circulate the blood and wakes the body up. 
  • Drive carefully. Give yourself plenty of time to react to other drivers by keeping a safe driving distance away from other motorists.  You may not be drowsy, but after the time change, it is very likely that drivers around you are.  Assume other drivers cannot see you and let them have the right of way whenever possible.  Furthermore, reduce your speed, especially on long, rural roads where the mind can wander. 
  • Anticipate darker mornings. Be aware that the lost hour from the time change will mean the morning commute will be darker than what you are used to.  The majority of car accidents happen at night or in darkness, so prepare yourself; what you are accustomed to seeing in the sunlight will look different in dark.  
  • Have your car checked. The start of daylight saving time is around the start of spring and is a good time of year to have your vehicle checked.  Get a regular maintenance done and have your tires, brakes, and battery checked and replaced if necessary.

Media Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Those Injured by Drowsy Drivers

The hour lost from the switch to daylight saving time wreaks havoc on our sleep schedule, meaning more drowsy drivers out on the road.  If you have been injured by a drowsy driver, reach out to the Media car accident lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. Our experienced legal team can help you recover damages to pay for medical bills related to your accident as well as any lost income you incurred while you were unable to work following the collision. Call us at 610-565-3701 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.