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Daylight Savings Time Car Accidents

Daylight savings time may cause more than just a minor inconvenience to our busy schedules and sleep cycles.

daylight savings car accident st. louis

The loss of an hour of afternoon sunlight may increase the chances of motor vehicle accidents.  A recent study conducted by the University of British Columbia shows that 17 percent more car accidents occur in the week following the time change. Also, there is a 6 percent increase in fatal auto accidents.

Increased Auto Accidents

Setting the clocks to the changed time is simple, but adjusting internal clocks is more difficult. Especially those who struggle to get adequate speed or suffer from insomnia find it especially difficult to adjust their internal clocks. According to some sleep experts, the small advantages associated with daylight savings time are offset by the increased number of motor vehicle accidents.

Low light is not the only cause of increased accidents. It is the altered sleep patterns that can have a serious effect. Various studies have shown that a large percentage of people have difficulty adjusting their sleep patterns easily, and are unable to get quality sleep for many days after the time change. Sleep deprivation and altered sleep patterns can lead to poor decision making, inattentive driving, and slow reaction times. Some studies claim that each year, drowsy drivers cause $48 billion worth of damages and nearly one-fifth of car accidents are caused by drowsiness.

The Story behind Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving is not a new concept. It was first proposed by Ben Franklin in order to bring down the demand for wax candles. By World War-II the concept of DST became popular in Europe and America as a conservation measure. In the 1970s, during the energy crisis, it was again revived and has been in place since then. Now, the Daylight saving time begins in early March and end at the start of November.

The original idea behind DST was to conserve energy, however, with improved efficiency, many experts now believe that savings are not considerable and there are no substantial benefits. It has been estimated that the time change costs the US $434 million every year. This includes lost earnings, health care costs, and property damage caused by motor vehicle accidents, especially in the early morning.

According to the Insurance Research Council, on average a single car accident costs $23,400, which includes property damage, bodily injuries, and repair costs. Another major cause concern is the safety of school children because children are forced to go to school and wait for buses before sunrise. Dark mornings pose a serious threat to pedestrians, drivers and passengers, both young and old, because of limited visibility and drowsy driving.

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Updated: April 4, 2024