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Daylight saving time often leads to dangerous roads

Dangerous road conditions can lead to devastating motor vehicle collisions. Motorists often share the road with impaired drivers, distracted drivers and inexperienced drivers. Additionally, environmental factors often play a part in hazardous city streets and troublesome highways.

While drivers must often navigate snow, rain, fog and wind, twice a year they also must deal with an abrupt time change that directly impacts fatigue and visibility.

Why is DST more dangerous?

University of Colorado, Boulder researchers looked at more than a decade’s worth of accumulated crash data and reached a startling conclusion: In the week after daylight saving time (DST), fatal motor vehicle collisions increased by nearly 6% before slowly reverting to normal averages. In fact, the numbers showed a dramatic jump in 2007, when language in the Energy Policy Act moved DST from April to March. The researchers highlighted numerous factors for this spike, including:

  • Driver fatigue: Many people remember the clock-changing effect of DST as “spring forward.” Essentially, this means that drivers were now on the road to work at 7 a.m. when it still “felt” like 6 a.m. Researchers noted that it could take up to two weeks for the body’s circadian rhythm to fully adjust. Unfortunately, fatigued driving can lead to blurred perceptions, slow reactions and poor decision-making.
  • Visual difficulties: In addition to fatigue, drivers experience a sudden change in the sun’s position in the sky. From early morning commutes to driving home into the setting sun, drivers had become accustomed to the minor daily changes for the last several months. Now, it seemed, the sun made a dramatic jump. Based on their path of travel, drivers might experience blinding glare and amplified visual challenges.

No matter the scenario, drivers must proceed with caution. From sharing a fast-moving highway with distracted drivers to navigating crowded city streets with the sun in your eyes, motor vehicle collisions can mean serious injuries such as broken bones and spinal cord trauma.