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How Does Daylight Savings Time Increase the Risk of Nighttime Car Collisions?

Every November, most states turn their clock backs one hour to mark the end of Daylight Savings Time. This means it’s already dark by the time many commuters leave work and kids leave sports practices. Sure, we all benefit from that extra hour of sleep, but it can mess with our regular sleep patterns, which may lead to irritability, drowsiness and even mental exhaustion. This sleep disruption, coupled with the dark conditions, can lead to an uptick in nighttime car collisions, at least initially.

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The CDC says that going too long without sleep impairs a person’s ability to drive, much in the same way as drinking alcohol does. The NHTSA says drowsy driving killed 795 people in 2017 alone. Sadly, even though this is an entirely preventable occurrence, it leads to car collisions that can produce severe and lasting injuries.

If you have been injured in a collision where drowsy driving or poor nighttime conditions were to blame, consult with a car accident attorney in Southwest Virginia to learn your rights in recovering damages.

Daylight Savings Time: How it Hurts Us on the Roadways

Daylight Savings begins in March for 48 out of 50 states, remaining in place until November, at which time it ends. We “spring forward” in March and “fall back” in November, where we are robbed of an hour of daylight. Studies show this shift can claim lives on the roadways. One study revealed a big increase in fatal auto collisions during the six days after the change, placing the blame on shifting ambient light coupled with sleep deprivation, which in turn increases risks of collisions. In essence, it takes drivers about a week to fully adjust to the darker afternoon commute.

Further studies suggest that if daylight savings time were to be done away with, this would lead to a small but significant reduction in both motor vehicle and pedestrian fatalities in this country.

Nighttime: The Most Dangerous Time to Drive

Fatigue, shorter days, compromised night vision, impaired drivers and rush hour: this is a recipe for disaster as we drive at night. Weekends are even worse, with fatal crashes at their highest on Saturday nights.

When Daylight Savings Time ends every November, we find ourselves spending more time driving in the dark. There are many factors that can hamper our ability to operate at our peak driving skill, such as headlight glare from oncoming vehicles, and compromised depth perception, peripheral vision, and color recognition.

Our reaction time is reduced as well, down to 250 feet with standard headlights and 500 feet with high beams.

Certain drivers are at a higher risk for nighttime collisions, such as commercial truck drivers, bus drivers, those who work over 60 hours a week, and teens (they already don’t get enough sleep).

Daylight Savings Time can also have a negative effect on mood, interfering with your hormonal balance. You may feel anxious, irritable, exhausted, and short tempered. Because you are less focused and less attentive, it’s more likely that you have a delayed reaction time, risking getting cut off by another motorist, for example.

There are a few steps you can take to ensure your safety and that of other motorists and pedestrians at night:

  • Wear anti-reflective glasses
  • Make sure your headlights are operating correctly and are clean
  • Do not look directly at oncoming lights
  • Clean your windshield regularly to maximize your viewing window
  • Slow down to accommodate for reduced stopping time and limited visibility
  • Minimize distractions, such as fiddling with the radio or chatting with passengers

As a pedestrian at night, take extra precautions such as wearing reflective vests, carrying a flashlight and only crossing at crosswalks.

Unfortunately, collisions happen in the blink of an eye, leading to very serious injuries. You need a car accident lawyer in Roanoke VA on your side should this happen.

Contact Altizer Law

If you, or a loved one, have been seriously injured in a nighttime motor vehicle collision after the time change, contact Altizer Law for a free, no-obligation consultation with a Roanoke auto accident attorney.