Colorado residents should know that researchers at CU Boulder have come out with a study showing a link between daylight saving time and fatal car crashes in the week after the spring switch. DST has already been shown to have a negative impact on people’s health, such as contributing to cases of heart attack and stroke. This new study goes further and says that every year, there are an average of 28 more fatal crashes nationwide because of DST.
Researchers determined that there is an annual increase of 6% in fatal car crashes during the first week of DST. They analyzed crashes between 1996 and 2017 and found that the uptick could be seen consistently in each year, even when the Energy Policy Act switched the start of DST from April to March in 2007.
Moreover, the risk for a fatal crash increases the further west one lives in a given time zone. Residents of cities like St. George, Utah, and Amarillo, Texas, sleep an average of 19 fewer minutes than those in the easternmost region of the time zone, and they saw an 8% increase in fatal crashes in the first week of DST.
Drowsy driving is a serious form of negligence. Like drunk driving, it is characterized by reduced attention, impaired ability to assess risks and slow reaction times.
The effect of DST on drivers could possibly greater than the study suggests since it focused solely on fatal auto accidents. Many drowsy drivers can crash and wind up injuring others, in which case those victims may have the ability to file a claim. In this state, plaintiffs can seek reimbursement even if they partially contributed to a crash, but whatever damages they recover will be reduced proportionally. Victims may want a lawyer to evaluate the case.