Daylight savings, springtime and increased car accidents

You’re on your way back home from a long day at work. You got a little less sleep last night because you forgot about daylight saving time. It’ll be fine though, right? People are tired all the time. In reality, driving while drowsy can be almost as dangerous as drunk driving.

Driving drowsy

New research is showing that daylight savings time (DST) leads to an increase in car accidents resulting in death. The week following the time change shows a 6% increase in fatal crashes. That’s 28 added deaths.

The time change results in ‘mini jetlag.’ Researchers say that impact can be seen most prevalently in the first few days but can continue for two weeks. Here are some of the effects that a loss of sleep has on drivers:

  • Slower decision making
  • Slower reaction times
  • Lack of attention
  • Lack of ability to assess hazards

There is also evidence to show that the lack of sleep and worsened sleep quality found because of DST can increase the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Spring driving risks

While you may feel safer now that the snow is melting, there are new driving risks that come with springtime. In addition to the effects of the DST transition, you should also look out for:

  • Animals moving more and going into the road
  • Potholes
  • Rain and hail
  • Motorcyclists and bicyclists
  • Allergies and medications
  • Low tire pressure

It’s recommended to always be aware of these new risks when driving and to speak with a doctor if you have any concerns about medications. To reduce the risk of accidents due to DST, give your body extra time to adjust and prioritize a proper sleep schedule. Always pay attention to how your body is reacting to the transition in the weeks following.