Aaron Widmar
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Why Car Accidents Increase After Daylight Savings Time Begins

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wristwatch daylight savings clock car accidents increase

Losing an hour of sleep affects more than just your clock
Photo: Yamashita Yohei via CC

While the beginning of Daylight Savings Time every March moves our clocks an hour ahead and forces us to wake up early, its effect on our lives is far greater than robbing us of a much-beloved hour of sleep.

Multiple studies have found that Daylight Savings Time actually affects our safety, from a 5.7% increase in workplace injuries to a significant rise in automotive accidents.

How Daylight Savings Affects Public Safety

A 1992 study by the University of British Columbia’s Stanley Coren entitled “Sleep Deficit, Fatal Accidents, and the Spring Shift to Daylight Savings Time” found an 8% jump in traffic accidents the Monday following “springing” clocks ahead. A recent study by the same professor found that the number of auto accidents increased 17% the week following the onset of Daylight Savings Time.

In fact, one of the reasons President Nixon’s enactment of a year-round Daylight Savings Time was repealed was because of a sudden, notable increase in school bus accidents.

Some experts believe Daylight Savings Time forces society into a state of chronic sleep deprivation, while others believe the increase in traffic accidents is due to darker morning commutes. Most people claim it takes a week for their bodies to adjust to the change in schedule and sunlight, and psychologists assert that the change in time results in fatigue and drowsy morning commutes. Thus, the result is an annual increase in car wrecks for a couple days.

In this day and age, many are wondering if Daylight Savings Time is even worth it anymore. In the meantime, we’ll be getting extra sleep to adjust our bodies to the new schedule.

News Sources: CBS New York, NY Daily News, & McMaster University research resources