West Virginia residents may have no choice but to drive drowsy after losing one hour of sleep with daylight saving time. They should know, however, that the first week after DST always sees a rise in fatal car crashes. This was the conclusion that researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder came to. Their study, the most comprehensive yet on the subject, analyzed more than 730,000 fatal crashes in the U.S. that occurred between 1996 and 2017.
Specifically, the fatal crash numbers increase 6% nationwide after the time change, coming out to 28 more fatal crashes a year. The number rises 8% in the westernmost regions of each time zone, which are regions where the sun tends to rise and set later, leading to greater sleep deprivation among residents. What gave even more support to the results was that the annual uptick moved from April to March in 2007: the year that DST was moved from April to March.
This is not the only negative effect that DST can have. Previous studies have linked it to an increase in heart problems and workplace injuries in the first week after the switch. The study comes at a time when some states, including California, Oregon and Washington, are debating whether to abolish DST. The question, then, is whether to choose permanent standard time or permanent DST.
When there is a traffic accident and victims discover that the other driver was drowsy, they may have a case against that driver. Filing a claim with someone else’s auto insurance company can be hard on one’s own, though, so victims may want legal advice and guidance. In West Virginia, plaintiffs might be eligible to recover damages if they are less than 50% at fault. With a lawyer, victims may strive for the maximum settlement possible.