This Sunday, Americans in 48 states will be setting their clocks one hour ahead in observance of Daylight Saving Time (DST). For many, “springing forward” is an honored tradition that brings longer days and more evening daylight for the spring and summer months. According to statistics, however, it also brings increased risks of motor vehicle accidents – especially during the first week when motorists are still getting acclimated to the time change.
As many studies have shown, including one from Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University, Daylight Saving Time has a significant impact on roadway safety. That’s because researchers noted that accidents on the Monday which comes after the Sunday morning time change see average rates of fatal collisions rise from just over 78 to an average of 83. Other studies, including one report published by the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information, also report a nearly 10% increase in property damaging auto accidents throughout the week after DST.
These statistics have long fueled efforts by medical experts, lawmakers, and other safety advocates who want to do away with the practice of setting clocks forward in the spring, and setting them back in the fall. Aside from citing a lack of benefits in a modern era (especially in terms of energy conservation), critics of Daylight Saving Time also highlight the impact it has on human health and public safety. While small but statistically verifiable increases in traffic accidents after DST are a reasonable concern, they do more to highlight the dangers that come with a lack of quality sleep and disruptions in sleeping patterns – even if those disruptions are only an hour.
Tired Driving & Roadway Risks
At The Daspit Law Firm, our Houston personal injury lawyers have represented numerous Texans harmed in preventable car accidents, including those caused by negligent and unsafe drivers. While these motorists can include distracted and drunk drivers – who are widely known to cause avoidable wrecks – they also include motorists who were drowsy, fatigued, and sleep deprived.
As research has shown, tired driving is a significant danger on U.S. roadways. Not only does the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration list driver drowsiness as a contributing factor in tens of thousands of auto accidents, injuries and deaths each year – studies like those from AAA further report that driving drowsy can be as dangers as driving under the influence of alcohol. That’s because:
- Fatigue impairs critical cognitive functions that allow motorists to safely operate their motor vehicles – including their ability to focus, be aware of their surroundings, react to collision critical situations, and more.
- Driver fatigue causes wrecks not only when drivers fall asleep at the wheel, but also when drowsy drivers miss stop signs or red lights, lane drift, make unsafe lane changes, fail to see pedestrians or bicyclists when turning, or otherwise commit other moving violations and driver errors.
- Getting less than 7 hours of sleep in a night (the number of hours recommended by the U.S. CDC) can significantly increase drivers’ risks of crashing. In fact, getting less than 5 hours of sleep, even in just one night, can make a driver as dangerous as if they were driving while legally intoxicated.
Tips to Avoid Drowsy Driving
While the risks of driver fatigue are substantial, it can be largely avoided by taking reasonable measures to ensure safety. Following DST and beyond, there are few important ways you can avoid drowsy driving:
- Make sleep a priority, and get at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night.
- Make up sleep debt when you are able to do so (sleeping in on the weekend, going to bed earlier if you missed out on sleep the night before, etc.)
- Ensure you are well rested prior to driving, including early-morning commutes and longer drives or road trips
- Have another licensed driver in your vehicle to switch off driving duties, especially on longer trips.
- Use carpooling or public transportation to avoid driving while tired.
- During trips of 100 miles or more, take periodic rest breaks, drink something with caffeine, or pull off the road to rest if you feel your driving is being affected by fatigue.
Although every motorist has the ability to take steps that reduce risks of drowsy driving, not every driver makes safety a priority. When drivers who fail to uphold their legal obligations of safe vehicle operation cause crashes that injure innocent victims – whether by falling asleep, committing a moving violation, or committing other acts of negligence and errors – those victims have a right to hold responsible drivers liable for their damages – including their medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. Our team at The Daspit Law Firm is committed to representing victims in their fight for these and other damages incurred during auto wrecks, and uses decades of combined experience to secure the maximum compensation possible.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car accident caused by a tired or negligent driver, place your trust and case in hands of attorneys who know how to guide you through the personal injury claim process. To learn more about protecting your rights with the help of our award-winning attorneys anywhere in Houston or the state of Texas, contact us for a FREE consultation.