The spring switch to daylight saving time may leave many residents of Wisconsin feeling drowsy. Having one’s sleep schedule disrupted in this way can have a negative impact on health and safety as various studies have shown. For example, the first week of DST has been linked with a greater number of workplace injuries and cases of heart attack and stroke. A new study goes further and links the first week with a spike in fatal car crashes.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder who analyzed car crashes in the U.S. between 1996 and 2017. They found a consistent spike in the workweek immediately after the spring switch, even when DST was moved from April to March. This spike came to about 6% annually, or 28 additional crashes ending in fatality.
The number of fatal crashes went up 8% for the westernmost regions in each time zone. Residents in these areas sleep an average of 19 fewer minutes than those who live farther east in a time zone, so the loss of one hour of sleep impacts their driving more. Regardless of where they live, though, drivers can become equally impaired by drowsiness. In its effect, it is a lot like alcohol intoxication: It impairs one’s attention and ability to react to dangers.
When motor vehicle accidents arise through drowsy driving, those who are injured and who are less at fault than the negligent driver may file a personal injury claim. If successful, they might be covered for losses like medical expenses, vehicle damage, lost income and pain and suffering. Victims are bound to face a number of hurdles, though, especially with the auto insurance companies, so it may be a good idea to get legal representation. A lawyer may handle all negotiations.