Georgia residents can do a lot to prepare for the spring switch to daylight saving time, such as getting to bed earlier and reducing their exposure to the light from cellphones, laptops and TVs. However, chances are that they will still feel drowsy after losing one hour of sleep. While previous studies have linked DST with drowsy driving, a new study shows just how deadly the change can be.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder analyzed crash numbers between 1996 and 2017 and found a consistent spike of around 6% in fatal car crashes during the first week of DST. This meant about 28 fatal crashes occurred every year that could have been prevented. Also, the increase is greater the farther west one goes in a time zone.
Those living on the edge of a time zone already sleep less than people elsewhere: about 19 minutes less, on average. This makes the “mini jet lag” caused by DST more dangerous for them.
Drowsy driving can be similar to drunk driving in that both are characterized by impaired attention, risk assessment abilities and reaction times. Other studies have found an increase in heart attacks, stroke and on-the-job injuries during the initial week of DST.
Though it is understandable that drivers would feel drowsy after DST, they cannot be freed from blame on account of this if they cause a crash. Victims of a drowsy driver may file a personal injury claim and retain legal counsel. If the auto insurance companies are unwilling to pay out a reasonable amount in damages or force victims into a low-ball settlement, then the victims’ lawyers might argue in court. Third-party investigators may help gather proof against the defendant.