Research has found that daylight savings time (DST) disrupts your circadian rhythm, negatively affecting your health. Less frequently discussed, however, is that DST also raises the rate of car accidents. The Monday after switching the clocks forward for spring, car accidents sharply increase.

Being on the road after daylight savings time is far riskier than you might expect. Explore the effect of daylight savings time on car accidents and how Great West Injury Law can help if you or a loved one are injured in a crash.

The Risks of “Springing Ahead”

Losing an hour of sleep is dangerous for drivers. Sleep deprivation impairs functions needed for driving, like attention, quick decision-making, and processing new information. This can have deadly consequences: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that drowsy driving killed at least 684 people on the road in 2021.

In addition to losing sleep, drivers lose visibility. Setting the clock an hour ahead means that the sun is lower in the sky during the morning. Those who commute to work may find themselves driving in the dark or during sunrise when the roads are poorly lit.

Recent research has confirmed the impact of “springing ahead” on driving. In a 2022 study, researchers had participants travel the same route twice in a driving simulator, once before and once after the clock switched forward.

After the clocks were changed for spring DST, driving performance decreased, with more drivers performing illegal or dangerous maneuvers on the driving simulator. In real life, these behaviors could lead to serious car accidents.

The Effects of “Falling Back”

The impact of setting the clock back an hour in the fall hasn’t been studied as thoroughly. However, research suggests it is similarly dangerous. One study found that crash rates increased significantly the Sunday after setting the clocks back.

Gaining an extra hour of sleep in the fall is still disruptive to the circadian rhythm, as many people do not adjust their sleep schedule, instead choosing to stay up an hour later. Setting the clock back also leads to lost visibility in the evening; those driving home after work could be driving in the dark or at sunset.

Some reports also suggest that drunk driving could increase around this time. 2022 research found that alcohol use slightly increased around fall DST. While Utah has lower rates of alcohol use than the rest of the U.S., data released by the Utah Department of Health in 2018 found that of all Utah adults who drink, 39.9% consume at least four or five drinks in one session. That means while drunk drivers may be less common, they’re likely to be more heavily intoxicated, potentially making them more dangerous.

Can I Sue for Damages if I’m Injured in a DST Crash?

A car crash involving a sleep-deprived or drunk driver can be far more dangerous than a typical car crash. Drunk or tired drivers may be speeding, driving recklessly, or unable to react quickly. Car crashes at high speeds can result in severe injury or even death to you or a loved one.

Utah is a no-fault state, so your insurance company will compensate you for your car’s damage and some of your medical bills. No-fault policies can also prevent you from filing a personal injury claim or seeking non-economic damages like loss of companionship. However, Utah law permits filing a claim if you:

  • Incurred more than $3,000 in medical bills
  • Were left permanently disabled or disfigured
  • Lost a limb

Should I Hire an Attorney After a DST Crash?

Filing a successful claim can be difficult without the help of an attorney. You will need to prove that the other driver is at fault and negotiate with insurance companies, which is challenging when you’re healing. Hiring a skilled car accident attorney from Great West Injury Law will increase your chances of a successful claim.

The Great West Injury Law attorneys have a strong understanding of Utah law. While you focus on recovering from your injuries, we will collect proof that the other driver is at fault, estimate your damages, and negotiate with insurance to collect the largest settlement possible. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.

 Originally published November 14, 2022.