Accidents Increase After Daylight Savings Time
Daylight Savings Time can be a challenging time of the year. Losing an entire hour of sleep can not only be inconvenient, but it can also be dangerous. Studies show that loss of sleep, as well as accompanying minor changes in behavior that occur during Daylight Savings Time, significantly increase the amount of fatal car crashes in America.
To be exact, the number of fatal car accidents generally increases by as much as 17% during the first six days after the time change. The number of nonfatal accidents also increases during this time.
Impact of DST On Car Accidents
Just losing an hour of sleep is not the only issue. Any deviance from your normal sleep schedule can cause increased drowsiness. That means that even when you gain an hour of sleep, it still increases your chances of having a wreck while your body readjusts.
It may surprise you to learn just how much sleep can impact driving habits. Studies show that people who sleep between six and seven hours a night have twice as many accidents as people who sleep eight or more. Men and women who sleep less than five hours have four to five times as many accidents as people who sleep eight hours. The margin for error between these three quantities of sleep is small, so losing just one hour of sleep can have catastrophic results.
Driving drowsy is a serious situation. It is every bit as dangerous as being distracted while driving, and unlike driving while distracted, it is not as easily fixed. Sometimes a cup of coffee just will not get the job done.
Almost 70% of Americans drive themselves to and from work, and many drive while drowsy. It is speculated that more than 25% of drivers drive drowsy to or from work a few days out of the month. Twelve percent drive drowsy more than twice a week, and a whopping four percent claim they drive drowsy every single day, or close to it. Unfortunately, these people who are driving groggy so often are not only a danger to themselves, but also a hazard to everyone else on the road.
The majority of car crashes occur while people are headed to their job early in the mornings. This statistic is only exacerbated by the loss of one hour of sleep, which makes morning come earlier in the day, while it’s still dark outside. Early morning commuting in the dark can drastically lower visibility and cause more accidents simply because of the lighting conditions.
Avoid Car Accidents After Time Change
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help your body prepare for the time change so you are less drowsy on the road.
To start, begin to go to bed a little earlier (or later depending on the incoming time change) throughout the week before the time change. Doing this allows your body time to adjust, which lowers the chances of you driving drowsy, or at least the severity of your drowsiness.
Exercising is also a good idea, as it releases serotonin which helps your body adjust. Keep your exercising too early in the day though. Working out too late at night can hurt your sleeping cycle.
Third, avoid naps. While it might make you feel better soon after, taking a nap might impact your nighttime sleep and cause you to be even more tired the following day.
Next, try to make sure you are eating at the correct times. As the time changes, your body’s natural processes take time to catch up. You might get hungry an hour late or an hour too early, and going to bed after eating can keep awake up for hours, or ruin the quality of your sleep.
Also, certain foods can directly affect your sleep habits. Make sure you are eating the right foods at the right time such as limiting caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
Finally, if your body is slow to adapt to the time shift, attempt to change the lighting in your surroundings. It may seem like a minute shift, but more or less light in a room can drastically change your state of mind. In the morning, do your best to make your rooms bright to help your body understand that it is time to be awake. In the evenings, dim the lights early so your body understands that it is time to start winding down for the day.
At the end of the day, Daylight Savings Time can be a challenge for anyone. While the loss of sleep is a mild inconvenience, it can also be dangerous. Do your best to help your body adjust, and watch out for the drivers that did not.