Daylight Saving Time (DST) is around the corner. On Sunday, March 8 at 2 a.m., Floridians will shift their clocks forward one hour. That means everyone loses one hour of sleep.
Besides being extra sleepy, researchers say that “springing forward” has dangerous consequences. A recent study in the journal Current Biology reported a 6 percent increase in fatal car accidents during the week following the time change. This spike translates to more than 28 deaths a week.
The study looked at data for 732,835 fatal car accidents over a 22-year period. The figures, compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), showed that 5.7 fatal car accident deaths occurred each day in the workweek following the change to DST. That equated to more than 625 deaths between 1996 and 2017.
Why Are There More Fatal Accidents During Daylight Saving Time?
Several studies have examined why there are more fatal car accidents during DST. The overall conclusion is that sleep deprivation and disrupting sleep rhythms are the leading causes.
Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood, memory, judgment, and health. Shortening your sleep cycle by even one hour can put you in a state of “mini-jetlag,” according to researchers.
During sleep, the brain’s neural pathways recharge. Without enough rest, the signals it sends to the body may be delayed, decreasing coordination and compromising decision-making abilities. All of these functions are critical for driving safely.
According to NHTSA, more than 91,000 car accidents in a recent year involved drowsy drivers. Of that number, more than 800 people died and 50,000 were injured.
Prepare Now For DST
Sleep specialists say there are several things you can do to prepare for the spring time change.
Here are some tips:
- Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night in the week leading up to the time change. Adjust your wake times accordingly.
- Aim to eat your meals about an hour earlier than you usually would.
- Make your room bright as soon as you wake up.
- Avoid caffeine.
- Exercise to stimulate your senses before driving.
- Dim the lights in your home an hour earlier each night.
Although you should continue this practice for now, Floridians may not have to do it forever. Lawmakers have approved a bill that would make DST permanent in the Sunshine State. They’re not alone. The federal government is considering other bills like it from states throughout the country.
How Can Brooks Law Group Help Me If I Get Into A Car Accident?
The Florida personal injury attorneys at Brooks Law Group have nearly three decades of experience helping people who have been injured in car accidents. Florida’s no-fault laws can make obtaining full and fair compensation after a crash difficult. Our knowledgeable lawyers can look for ways to maximize your award and help you on the road to recovery.