Daylight Saving Time Increases Risk for Fatal Car Accidents

March 4, 2020

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is set to begin March 8. People complain that the one-hour time shift is jarring and inconvenient, but a new study suggests that the disruption can even be deadly. The study, which appears in the journal, Current Biology, found a six percent increase in traffic fatalities each spring in the week after the time change. The early-spring introduction of the annual time adjustment sees an uptick in motor vehicle accident deaths beginning the Sunday of the time change, and continuing for a week. Fatal car accidents are more likely to occur in the morning hours during the entire week after the clock’s leap forward, with an average of 5.7 additional fatal accidents per day in the U.S.

Sleep Depravation

As a result of the time shift, people are forced to rise an hour earlier than they are used to each morning. Some morning commuters hit the road when it is still dark out, driving in light conditions to which they are not accustomed. Many are climbing into their vehicles sleep deprived, as their daily routines have yet to fully shift to the new time. The study notes that the fall time change is less affected, since motorists are gaining an hour in the morning, which positions them better to avoid sleep deprivation that can lead to a groggy morning commute.


Research was based on a federal study of 732,825 automobile fatalities that occurred in states observing Daylight Saving Time from 1996 to 2017. Interestingly, researchers found that the rise in traffic fatalities shifted in correspondence when the time shift was changed in 2007 from April to March.

Implemented during WWI to save energy, Daylight Saving Time has shown little evidence to support such energy conservation justification. It was put into effect nationally in 1960, but states and territories, such as Arizona and Hawaii, have eliminated the system. Additional states, including Florida, California, Oregon, and Washington are considering similar plans.

How to Prepare for the Time Shift

To help one prepare for the time shift and to feel less drowsy on the road, practice going to sleep 15 minutes before your normal bedtime each night. Once you become accustomed to this change, the time shift may not have a huge effect. If your early commute involves driving in the dark, make sure your headlights are always on and be aware of other drivers. 

Huntsville Car Accident Attorney at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Assist Victims Injured in Traffic Accidents

If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a car crash, you may be able to collect damages for your accident. The Huntsville car accident attorney at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. can help you obtain compensation to pay for medical bills, lost wages, or other financial impacts you suffered as a result of the accident. Contact our website or call us at 256-539-3110 to set up a free consultation. Located in Huntsville and Athens, Alabama, we serve clients throughout North Alabama, Madison County, Limestone County, Marshall County, Jackson County, Morgan County, and Lauderdale County.