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How much difference can an hour make to your safety?

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2024 | Personal Injury |

On Sunday, March 10, 2024, Daylight Savings Time kicks in again – and most Americans will automatically shift their clock ahead one hour accordingly.

Most Americans will also be walking around in a sleep-deprived daze for a few days, too, as a result. This can result in deadly consequences for many, especially those who have to be on the road. Every year, there’s a 6% spike in fatal wrecks immediately following the time change, and the risk doesn’t go back down for about a week.

Why does a single hour of lost sleep matter?

It all comes down to biology. The abrupt shift in time at the beginning of Daylight Savings Time disrupts people’s circadian rhythms – the internal body clock that regulates their sleep/wake cycles.

Even though it’s “just an hour,” some people really struggle to adapt. Losing an hour of sleep can actually have a profound effect on their overall sleep quality (with some folks having a worse time than others because they’re worried that they won’t wake up in time for work). Essentially, Daylight Savings Time turns the United States into a nation of drowsy drivers.

In addition, the biannual time change can also negatively affect the mental health of many. Those disrupted sleep schedules can cause stress and anxiety to rise, which may further affect a driver’s ability to focus on the road and make sound decisions.

What can you do about it? One trick is adjusting your own sleep schedule ahead of the time change by going to bed and waking up 15 minutes earlier than normal several days in a row to give your body and brain more time to adjust.

Beyond that, you simply have to be aware of the fact that there may soon be a lot of very tired drivers on the road for a while. If you end up in a wreck with one of them, learning more about your legal options can help you to evaluate your rights and options in informed ways.