Daylight Saving Time’s Effect on Drivers

When we spring forward and adjust our clocks for Daylight Saving Time (DST), this results in more daylight during the evening hours and less light during the early morning. This can provide a shift towards longer days in the summer. While it might take your household a few days to adjust to the time change, did you know that Daylight Saving Time can also result in an increase in car accidents?

While that one-hour time change may seem negligible, the adjustment can really produce a substantial amount of fatigue in people that can lead to a fatigue-related crash. Most people are not looking out for signs of fatigue after daylight savings, thinking it’s just one hour difference. The truth is DST can impact your reaction times and put you at a higher risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

awning woman driving her car after losing an hour of sleep due to DST

Annual Accidents Caused by Daylight Saving Time

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System claims that there is a six percent increase in trucking accidents and car accidents, caused by Daylight Saving Time. This equates to about 28 deaths each year. It’s important to note, this increase took place for the change during the spring adjustment. The time change during November doesn’t seem to have the same impact, as you’re actually gaining an hour of sleep during that time. This explains the direct correlation between signs of fatigue and an increase in falling asleep at the wheel or having slower reaction times.

A car rear ended another car due to driver fatigue and slower reaction times

What Can You Do About This Risk?

You may be left wondering what you do to minimize your risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by DST fatigue. There are two ways of looking at this situation. There is a risk that you could be the cause of an accident and a risk that you could be the victim of an accident. If you are tired because you’ve lost an hour of sleep, you may become drowsy while driving. Your actions could cause a deadly accident. You can prevent this by planning ahead. Try going to bed an hour early the night before daylight savings, so you get the same amount of sleep that you normally do. That shift won’t feel as dramatic if you’re getting the same seven or eight hours that are typical for you.

Use extra caution when you’re on the road, even if you’ve gotten enough sleep though. You may feel like you’re alert and ready for the day, however, other drivers may not be in the same condition. It always helps to watch out for drivers that may be drifting over the center lane, coming into your path. There is also a risk for an accident if the driver next to you is feeling fatigued and starts to swerve into your lane.

Woman sleeping with a sleep mask on her eyes

Motor Vehicle Collisions Caused by Deer

While the time change in the spring can result in car and trucking accidents caused by driver fatigue, the time change in the fall can actually result in an increased risk of collisions between a vehicle and a deer. There is a 16 percent increase in these instances during the week following the fall time change. Because of less sunlight, driver visibility goes down. This is also a prime time for deer to mate, meaning they’re on the move a little bit more. If you live in an area where deer are prevalent, it’s a good idea to use some extra caution in the fall to ensure you don’t miss spotting one while you’re driving.

Deer in the road at night with two cars oncoming

What Happens After an Accident Caused by DST Fatigue?

If you’ve been involved in an accident while driving, you should first make sure that nobody is injured. Regardless of what the root cause of the accident was, a call should be made to local law enforcement so a police report can be filed. This information will be useful later on in the event of a lawsuit or needing to have your vehicle repaired. Other information that’s collected should include names, license plate numbers, insurance information and contact information.

As soon as you’re ok and back at home, you should contact an attorney that can help you with any potential compensation that you might be eligible for. If you were injured by a negligent driver, Williams DeLoatche, P.C. can assist. We take care of cases focusing on car accidents, traumatic brain injury, traffic violations, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents and much more. Reach out to us today to find out more information.