Car accidents arise every day in Tennessee, many of them fatal. A new study has shown, however, that even more fatal crashes occur in the week after the spring switch to daylight saving time. The study, published in Current Biology, shows how the loss of one hour of sleep increases the number of fatal crashes by 6%. In other words, about 28 more fatal crashes occur in this week than in the week prior.
Researchers add that residents on the western edges of a time zone are more sleep-deprived and see an increase of 8% in fatal car accidents. Residents usually have to make their morning commute in the dark since the sun rises and sets later in these westernmost regions.
This echoes the findings of previous studies, which discovered an increase in heart problems and on-the-job injuries in the week after the “spring forward.” The study comes at a time when some states, including California, Oregon and Washington, are considering doing away with the switch every year.
For this study, the most comprehensive yet, researchers analyzed 732,835 accidents that took place from 1996 to 2017. They found that the spike in crashes is indeed not a coincidence as it moved together with the start of DST when the time change was rescheduled from April to March in 2007.
Many drowsy driving crashes end not in fatalities but in injuries. In such cases, the victims may strive for compensation with a personal injury lawsuit. While it may be ideal to achieve an out-of-court settlement, this does not always happen because of opposition from the insurance companies. There might, for example, be insufficient evidence that the defendant was drowsy. For this and other reasons, victims may want a lawyer to help them with their claim.