How Daylight Saving Times Affects The Rate of Car Accidents 

November 16, 2022

How Daylight Saving Times Affects The Rate of Car Accidents 

The semi-annual changing of the clocks for Daylight Saving Time (DST) often has a disruptive effect on people, whether from loss of sleep or a disrupted sleeping schedule, or missed appointments due to forgetting to change clocks. DST is also blamed for a host of other negative impacts, including increased rates of heart attack, workplace accidents, and suicides. But DST also has an impact on the rate of car accidents in the days and weeks following the time change. How exactly does DST affect motor vehicle accident rates? Keep reading to find out.

What is Daylight Saving Time?

First proposed in the 18th century, Daylight Saving Time was first implemented during World War I to conserve fuel needed for electricity generation by lengthening daylight hours. DST ended after the war and renewed for a short time again during World War II. After WWII, DST became a local practice, with adjacent cities in some places changing their clocks at different times of the year and by different amounts of time.

In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act which again created a national rule for DST, with clocks moving forward one hour on the last Sunday of April and back one hour on the last Sunday of October. States could opt out from DST but had to do so throughout the whole state (although Native American reservations in opt-out states could choose to follow the federal rule). 

In 2007, the period of Daylight Saving Time was extended to span from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. 

Problems with DST and Driving

Changing clocks at the beginning and end of DST can contribute to an increase in auto accidents as people’s sleep schedules are disrupted, making them more likely to drive while drowsy or fatigued. This is especially prevalent during the Spring forward since people effectively get one less hour of sleep if they need to wake up early Sunday morning. Changing the clocks back in November also results in sundown during the mid-to-late afternoon in many parts of the country, such as New Jersey, which means that many commuters leave work to go home after sunset.

Car Accident Statistics After DST Changes

Researchers who examined fatal motor vehicle accident data from 1996 through 2017 found that the rates of fatal auto crashes increased by six percent in the week after the springtime change to DST, amounting to approximately 5.7 fatal accidents per day in that week. The study’s authors concluded that if clocks didn’t change, there would be approximately 28 fewer fatal car accidents per year.

How to Stay Safe on the Road After DST

You can help protect yourself on the road during the time changes for DST by:

  • Going to bed and waking up a little earlier than normal in the days leading up to the time change.
  • Avoiding bright lights from televisions, laptops, or smartphones in the hour before going to sleep.
  • Avoiding caffeine in the few hours before going to bed
  • Not getting behind the wheel in the early morning if you are still feeling drowsy or fatigued

Contact a Hamilton Township Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in New Jersey

Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries because of a car accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Hartman Duff, LLC represent clients injured by car accidents in Hamilton Township, Ewing Township, Lawrence Township, Princeton, and throughout New Jersey. Call 609-853-5579 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 2681 Quakerbridge Rd., Hamilton Township, NJ 08619.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.