Does Daylight Savings Time Cause Auto Accidents?

With the end of daylight savings time comes an increase of darkness around the time of rush hour, when traffic is at a peak. Drivers aren’t used to the decreased visibility – and neither for that matter are pedestrians, who might take chances crossing roads when they shouldn’t. Wrongful death cases as a result of auto accidents are a strong possibility when you have all these elements working together.

The National Road Safety Foundation has done studies proving that auto accidents increase after the clocks fall back an hour. Besides the lack of visibility, the NRSF notes that commuting in the dark can also make drivers drowsier than usual.

“Drowsy driving is a significant factor in traffic crashes. The risk increases as daylight savings time ends and we spend more time driving at night,” says the NRSF’s David Reich. “Drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving.”

Studies show 60 percent of U.S. motorists have driven while fatigued – resulting in many personal injury and wrongful death situations. A CNN report estimated that pedestrians walking at dusk after the time switch are three times more likely to be hit by a car.

Obviously, daylight savings time is not going to be abolished – and obviously, even if it were, there would still be hours less of daylight due to the approach of winter. Therefore, it’s important for both drivers and pedestrians to be aware of the heightened danger that more darkness creates for all parties – and to be extra-cautious at this time of the year to avoid motorcycle and auto accidents.

The NRSF also offers warning signs for drowsy drivers so they can avoid falling asleep at the wheel and causing auto accidents. These include:

o Difficulty focusing, rubbing eyes, frequent blinking
o Daydreaming or not remembering driving the last few miles
o Head snaps, yawning
o Drifting out of your lane, tailgating or hitting rumble strips

Should you find yourself with any of these warning signs, the NRSF advises you to pull over and take a break, have a caffeinated beverage or snack, or even take a nap. Of course, you should avoid alcohol before getting behind the wheel, as that also encourages sleepiness.

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