According to new research coming out of the University of Colorado that studied the impact of daylight savings over the course of ten years, there may be as much as a 17% increase in traffic incident related deaths the Monday after the spring time change. In addition, traffic related fatalities were also higher on average during the week following the time change when compared to all other weeks in the year.
Researchers attribute the uptick in traffic related accidents following the time change to a number of factors including, but not limited to; lower visibility, fatigue, and impaired judgment associated with disruption of regular sleep cycles.
Bellingham drivers are becoming more aware of the risks of drowsy driving. However, it seems that this new research is a surprise, even though it shouldn't be. Drivers suffering from sleep deprivation can be as dangerous as drunk or distracted drivers. Though there's no law specifically against drowsy driving in Washington State, a drowsy driver who causes an accident can be charged with reckless driving or vehicular assault. Lawmakers are currently considering making drowsy driving a crime.
To avoid the pitfalls of the time change, experts recommend getting a bit more sleep the night of the time change. Experts also suggest drivers pull over to rest if they experience or sense fatigue or drowsiness. As we all adjust our biological (and physical) clocks from the change, remember to be vigilant and cautious on the roadways. That advice is relevant no matter what time of day, of course.
As always, Doug Dahl at the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force has great thoughts about traffic safety. Click here to read his column about Daylight Savings' surprising contribution to more drowsy driving accidents.
If you were hit by another driver, it may seem like it's difficult to know if drowsy driving factored in your accident. However, drowsy drivers leave telltale clues that can help your personal injury claim. Click to learn more.