Cars sitting in traffic

Time Change Causes Uptick in Fatal Car Accidents

While most of us enjoy getting that extra hour of sleep back after losing it earlier in the year, there are some people who detest Daylight Savings Time. The parents of small children and pet owners are the first to come to mind, but research suggests all of us may want to be wary of our twice-a-year time travel. 

The time change has been linked to an uptick in workplace injuries, sleep disturbances, strokes, and heart attacks, and researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder have determined it is also responsible for an increase in fatal car accidents:

For the study — the largest and most detailed to date to assess the relationship between the time change and fatal motor vehicle accidents — the researchers analyzed 732,835 accidents recorded through the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System from 1996 to 2017. They excluded Arizona and Indiana, where Daylight Savings Time was not consistently observed.

After controlling for factors like year, season and day of the week, they found a consistent rise in fatal accidents in the week following the springtime change. Notably, that spike moved in 2007, when the Energy Policy Act extended daylight saving time to begin on the second Sunday of March instead of the first Sunday in April.

Changes in accident patterns also occur after the “fall back” time change, the study showed, with a decline in morning accidents and a spike in the evening, when darkness comes sooner.

The National Sleep Foundation urges drivers to treat the fall time just as cautiously as the more dangerous spring shift; going so far as to designate the week following the fall time change as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

According to the Foundation, drowsy driving is responsible for more than 6,400 U.S. deaths annually. To reduce drowsy driving accidents, the Foundation shares a few tips:

First and foremost, always make sure you are alert before getting behind the wheel. If you feel sleep deprived, consider alternate modes of transportation. If you notice that you are drowsy while driving, pull over and take action. You could grab a 20 minute nap or drink a caffeinated beverage. Frequent blinking, heavy eyelids, drifting thoughts, and repeated yawning are all signs of drowsiness and that it is time to pull over. 

Because drowsy driving is a risk that can typically be avoided, accident victims in the Chicago area who suspect drowsiness was a factor in the wreck that injured them should reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney like Vaziri Law LLC. Being able to prove the other party was responsible for causing the accident is the key to maximizing the amount of money an accident victim can recover. 

Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to seek compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Rehabilitative costs
  • Lost wages – present and future
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Permanent disability/disfigurement
  • Court costs

If the other party’s actions were particularly reckless — such as getting behind the wheel after far too little sleep, and knowing you are putting other people on the road at risk — it may be possible to seek punitive damages. While the items listed above are intended to compensate victims for actual losses, punitive damages are meant to punish the irresponsible party and send a message to others that such actions will not be tolerated. 

The Vaziri Law LLC team is here to help Chicagoans who are injured in drowsy driving accidents get the compensation they deserve. We are ready to hold irresponsible parties accountable for their actions, and make our roads safer for everyone. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.