The first week of daylight saving time is always a time for Colorado residents to be more careful on the road. The reason is that the loss of one hour of sleep makes everyone drowsy, raising the risk for crashes. In fact, a study published in Current Biology has found that there are 6% more fatal car crashes in the U.S. during the first week of DST. An estimated 28 more fatal crashes occur in this week each year, and many more that do not end in death likely occur as well.
For the study, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder analyzed more than 730,000 crashes occurring between 1996 and 2017. One other finding of theirs is that the farther west one goes in a time zone, the more fatal crashes there are. This is due to the sun rising and setting later in these regions. Many residents on the westernmost edges of a time zone still commute in the dark after the switch.
The study comes at a time when several states, including Washington, Oregon and California, are considering doing away with DST. It seems to back up other studies showing how DST leads to health and safety risks. For example, studies have linked DST with a greater number of workplace injuries and people experiencing heart problems in the first week after the time change.
Those who suffer in a serious accident and who find out that the other driver was drowsy may file a claim against that driver’s auto insurance company. If successful, they may be compensated for monetary damages like medical bills and lost wages as well as non-monetary damages like pain and suffering and loss of consortium. It may be wise to hire a lawyer, though, since chances are that the auto insurance companies will not want to offer a reasonable settlement.