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For The Tacoma Area

Study finds correlation between car crashes and time change

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2020 | Personal Injury

Daylight saving time: harmful or helpful?


Washington is one of a handful of states that has considered getting rid of the switch between daylight saving and standard times, and with good reason: multiple studies have found that changing the clocks forward or backward can be hazardous for one’s health. Not only is there an increase in heart problems following a time change, but there is also an increase in traffic accidents.


How much of an impact could a one-hour change really have?


A review of 732,835 fatal car accidents occurring between 1996 and 2017 found that changing the clocks forward correlates to a 6% increase in deadly accidents. The accident rate is even higher on the western side of states, where residents already have to cope with a later sunrise and sunset. For these individuals – who get an average of 19 fewer minutes of sleep per night than people in other parts of the state – the fatal traffic accident risk increased by 8%.


Is the increase in accidents actually caused by the time change?


The higher risk of fatal crashes was consistent across the years, even when the springtime change advanced from April to March. One of the researchers said that people experience a type of jet lag when they move the clocks forward, an effect that can last up to two weeks. Changing the clocks in the spring means that the sun suddenly rises an hour later than usual, which can lead to more accidents in the morning. There can also be more accidents after the time change in the fall, when people start having to drive home from work in the dark.


As always, be vigilant


Though Washington residents should always take care when driving, there is undoubtedly an increased risk of personal injury right after there is a switch to or from daylight saving time. If you have been the victim of a car crash, you may want to consult with an attorney to discuss possible remedies to which they could be entitled.