North Carolina residents may be drowsy during their morning commute as a result of losing one hour of sleep with daylight saving time. What they may be unaware of is that DST has been linked with an annual increase in fatal car crashes nationwide for the first week of the switch. A study from the University of Colorado Boulder says that such accidents are 6% more frequent during that initial week.
Researchers came to their conclusion after analyzing a total of 732,835 accidents that occurred in the U.S. from 1996 to 2017. To show that the link is not coincidental, researchers noted that the spike in crashes actually moved with the start of DST when the time change was rescheduled in 2007 for March instead of April.
Another interesting find was that residents of the westernmost regions in a time zone saw an 8% increase in fatal crashes. They run a greater risk because they tend to be more sleep-deprived with the sun rising and setting later in those areas than in others.
The majority of these fatal accidents connected to spring DST occur in the morning. During the “fall back” period, most related accidents arise at night due to the earlier sunsets. Besides accidents, there are also more workplace injuries and heart problems after DST.
Drowsy driving car accidents are avoidable, so the drivers who cause them can be held liable for injuries incurred by the other side. North Carolina holds to the rule of contributory negligence, which means those who file a personal injury claim cannot recover damages if they contributed so much as 1% to the crash. Victims may want a lawyer to evaluate their case and then handle the filing and negotiating process.