How DST leads to spike in fatal crashes every year

The journal Current Biology has published a study saying that daylight saving time contributes to a 6% increase in fatal traffic accidents every year in the week following the change. New York residents should know that this amounts to more than 28 fatal crashes a year. The effect of the DST transition is seen most especially in the early morning hours and in those areas that are further west in a given time zone.

Researchers looked at the fatal crashes recorded in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for the years 1996 to 2017 and found a consistent spike in them in the first week of the springtime change. That spike even moved from April to March in 2007, which was the year that the Energy Policy Act pushed the change forward from the first Sunday of April to the second Sunday of March.

Those on the western edges of a time zone get 19 fewer minutes of sleep on average compared to those on the eastern edges because the sun rises and sets later. This is what puts them at a higher risk for sleep deprivation after DST. Though the effect of DST seems minor, researchers emphasize that it is an effect felt by billions. The risk may be greater since the study only covered fatal accidents.

Drowsy driving is one of the most prominent causes of motor vehicle crashes, and since it is a form of negligence, those who are injured may seek compensation. New York is a no-fault state, so victims can only file a third-party insurance claim in the case of serious injuries or disabilities. To see what their options are, victims may have a lawyer evaluate the case. If there are good grounds for a personal injury claim, the lawyer might assist with negotiations.


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