Daylight saving time, which kicks off the process of the longer days of spring and summer, also appears to be linked to an increase in car accidents. Experts say that human biology is the reason behind the increase, which a road safety and sleep research study by the University of Colorado, Boulder, estimates is about six percent higher during the week following the change, resulting in about 28 more deaths in the United States around the time shift. Likewise, there are spikes in accident numbers in the autumn at the end of daylight saving time.
Humans need sleep, and we lose one hour of nighttime sleep for daylight saving time in the spring. Likewise, even though we gain an hour of sleep at the end of daylight saving time, we respond to the increased darkness by becoming drowsy.
Even though we gain an hour of sleep in the fall to adjust clocks for a longer night, the fact that people are spending much of their commuting time in the dark makes accidents more likely.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), we do about 25 percent of our driving at night in the United States. However, despite the greatly reduced traffic on the road, the NSC states that 50 percent of all road accident deaths happen at night.
Knowing that there is a spike in car accidents on the week following daylight saving time changes in both fall and spring, there are behavior shifts that medical information service Healthline Media recommends:
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before heading to bed to maximize your sleep.
- Establish a good night’s sleep as a priority. Most adults need six to eight hours a day.
- Understand that overworking, working long hours, or working during night hours will impact both your sleep and your performance during the day.
Safety experts liken drowsy driving to drunk driving. The effect of being up and awake for 18 hours impairs human reaction times and behaviors like a blood alcohol level of 0.05, according to Healthline Media.
- Avoid getting behind the wheel if you are impaired. This is a year-round caution, but in times when you need to be especially focused, such as driving in the dark at 7:00 a.m. or 5:00 p.m., it is even more critical.
- Minimize the light you are exposed to at night from cell phones, laptops, and television.
- Avoid heavy meals, particularly before bed. This can interrupt your sleep.
- Schedule in some naps during the day until you get used to the change.
What Should I Do following a Car Accident?
After a car accident, there will be a flurry of thoughts and emotions in your head. However, they do need to be prioritized because those moments following a car accident are critical.
- First, you want to check yourself and those around you for injuries. Many people do not feel their injuries right away after a car accident. Endorphins and adrenaline are pumping through the body as a result of the accident, and this will mask the pain.
- Get yourself and others from the accident site to a safe place out of traffic, if this is possible, and wait for police and paramedics.
- Call 911. In New Jersey, for any injuries, deaths, property damage over $500, and vehicle damage over $500, the police need to be notified.
- Take pictures of the injuries, damage, location, and the license plates of the vehicles involved. You might need evidence later.
- Get the names, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information from other motorists involved. Get the names and contact information from any witnesses nearby.
- Call your insurance company. The insurance company will need to know right away to get your claim started.
- Accept the emergency medical care offered. People often try to tough it out, or figure that they are safe because they do not have pain right after the accident. An evaluation by a doctor is the best way to avoid making an injury worse or not knowing about something that needs to be dealt with immediately.
- Contact an experienced car accident lawyer. Even if you are thinking you will accept whatever settlement the insurance company offers, you should contact a lawyer first. Remember, insurance companies are likely to minimize your claim because it benefits their business to do so. However, a lawyer will fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled.
Atlantic City Car Accident Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Help Clients throughout the Year
The change to daylight saving time brings special challenges to motorists. If you are involved in a car accident now or at any time of the year, reach out to the South Jersey car accident lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm. Our experienced legal team has been representing clients injured in car accidents for decades. Call us today at 609-926-3300 or contact us online for a free consultation. With an office in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we assist clients in Atlantic City, Linwood, Galloway Township, Cape May, Vineland, Millville, Bridgeton, Ocean City, Woodbury, and across South Jersey.