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Does daylight saving time lead to increased car accidents?

On Sunday March 13, most of America "sprung forward" and entered daylight saving time. By setting our clocks forward, many, if not most of us, will get less sleep over the weekend. Despite this loss, many people appreciate the extra light in the evenings. On the other hand, losing this hour of sleep and gaining darkness in the morning could lead to traffic accidents. In fact, many studies have showed a connection between car accidents and the beginning of daylight saving time.

One of the most recent studies, titled "Spring Forward at Your Own Risk: Daylight Saving Time and Fatal Vehicle Crashes" by Austin Smith of the University of Colorado, examined fatal traffic data in countries that follow daylight saving time. He found that over ten years, in the six days after daylight saving time begins, there were more than 300 deaths and $2.75 billion in damages compared to other weeks in the year.

Why does daylight saving time cause car accidents?

According to Smith's study, daylight saving time leads to accidents in two ways. First, people who are deprived of adequate rest are more likely to have slower reaction times and make poor decisions while driving, leading to accidents.

Secondly, the change in daylight hours causes disruption on commute times. For instance, a morning commuter who had been driving to work in daylight before daylight saving time may now be in darkness or during sunrise. On the other hand, an evening commuter who had been driving home in darkness could be driving home in daylight or during a sunset.

Both of these factors could contribute to increased motor vehicle accidents. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by someone else's negligence, a lawyer can make a real difference in helping you recover full compensation for your injuries. For years, people throughout Maryland have placed their trust in Robert J. Zarbin of the Zarbin Law Firm. Based in Upper Marlboro, he serves people across the region. Call 301-579-4396 to set up a free consultation.

Source: Spring Forward at Your Own Risk: Daylight Saving Time and Fatal Vehicle Crashes, by Austin Smith, University of Colorado, October 2014.

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