Increased Number of Car Accidents:The Dangers of Daylight Savings Time

Recent studies show that the first Monday after Daylight Savings time has a higher rate of heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace injuries. On average, people sleep 40 minutes less than they normally would during Daylight Savings and that can have a negative effect on people for the first few days. Dr Marc Schlosberg of the Washington Hospital-Sleep Center says the Circadian rhythm, a 24-hour cycle of biochemical, physiological, or behavioral processes of living entities on Earth, is set by a clock inside our brain called the hypothalamus which tells us when to go to sleep and when to wake up in the morning. It may not seem like it but our bodies have a hard time adjusting and need a few days to catch up with the slight change in schedule.

According to data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, after they tested miners (because they work in artificial light at all times and can produce cleaner scientific results) they came up with interesting results about the effects that Daylight Savings can have. On Mondays after the switch to Daylight Saving Time, they found, there were an average of 3.6 more injuries compared to other days, a 5.7% increase. Injuries on these days led to 2,649 more days of work lost per year, compared to injuries that didn't happen after the time shift, representing an approximately 68% increase. But switching back from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time and gaining an hour didn't affect injury frequency or severity.

Not only is there a higher risk for workplace injuries but there is also an increased risk for car accidents because when people are sleep-deprived their response time is lower. When you’re tired you don’t pay attention to your surroundings and are not as alert to danger. According to a University of British Columbia study that looked at 20 years of data, car crashes increased when clocks added an hour more so than when they lost an hour. The study also showed that sleep deprivation is most likely the cause of a 17 percent increase in motor vehicle collisions on the Monday following the time change. So it is important to take the few days surrounding the move to Daylight Savings very seriously so that unnecessary accidents can be avoided.

Here are a few tips to make your adjustment to Daylight Savings Time a bit easier:
 

  • Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier than you normally would for a few days before the time change.
  •  Don't nap on the Saturday before the time change.
  •  Expose yourself to sunlight as early as possible in the mornings to help set your internal clock.
  • Start work a half-hour later for a couple of days after the move to Daylight Saving Time.
  • Try to avoid scheduling particularly dangerous or demanding tasks for these days to prevent any accidents that may occur.
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