Spring forward took place this last weekend and everyone turned their clocks forward one hour. Often, people forget the difference between the daylight savings time events that take place in the fall and spring. Typically, they remember it as either losing or gaining an hour of sleep. In this case, people lose an hour of sleep as the hour between 2 AM and 3 AM is skipped. As a result, many people wake up the next morning feeling drowsy. Now, a research study was published showing that the incidence of fatal car accidents increases by about 6 percent during the week after daylight savings time.
According to the research article, the rise in accidents is the result of sleep deprivation. When someone doesn’t get an adequate amount of sleep at night, this can lead to symptoms that resemble jet lag. As a result, people feel drowsy behind the wheel of the car. Many researchers believe that driving while tired can be just as risky as driving while intoxicated. When someone feels drowsy behind the wheel of the car, this can impact how quickly someone can respond to changing road conditions. Some of the changes that might require quick decision making including an accident up ahead, someone crossing the street, or a sudden change in weather conditions. If someone is tired, they might not be paying attention properly. This can make it hard to assess road conditions and make adjustments accordingly.
Auto accidents can lead to serious injuries. According to Steinberg Goodman & Kalish, “When serious car and motorcycle accidents occur, the victims often face the cost of mounting medical bills, property damage, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and lost wages.” If someone falls asleep behind the wheel of the car, he or she might not be able to slam the brakes before the accident takes place. This means that the collision can take place at higher speeds, resulting in injuries that are far more serious. Fortunately, the researchers also had some tips for how to avoid the symptoms associated with sleep deprivation following daylight savings time.
In order to offset the risks that come with losing an hour of sleep, experts recommend that people sleep in during the handful of days before the transition to daylight savings time. This will help people make the transition more easily when the day finally arrives. Of course, some people might not be able to sleep in every day due to their work schedules. Therefore, try to go to bed a little bit earlier. That way, when someone loses an hour of sleep on the weekend, the symptoms won’t be quite as drastic. It is important for everyone to take steps to protect themselves while behind the wheel of a car. This means not driving while tired or intoxicated.