Start preparing now. Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins on March 8. Marylanders and most Americans will push their clocks ahead at 2 a.m., losing an hour of sleep.
The time change has more implications than one might think. The number of fatal car crashes increases by six percent in the workweek immediately following the switch, according to research recently reported in the journal Current Biology.
Disrupting the sleep cycle by “springing forward” significantly impacts people’s ability to stay alert, researchers say. That’s a bad combination for drivers, many of whom will be getting behind the wheel in darkness to begin their morning commutes.
The riskiest time for crashes is the Monday immediately following the change. After about a week, traffic accident data tends to return to its baseline numbers.
Around 28 lives could be saved every year if states eliminated Daylight Savings Time, the study said. The federal government is considering a permanent change, and many states have already introduced bills in their legislatures supporting the proposal.
Dangers of Drowsy Driving
Only about 61 percent of people in Maryland get a good night’s sleep, according to an article in Live Science. That’s defined as at least seven hours of rest each night.
The remaining 39 percent of Marylanders who are operating on a sleep deficit may experience symptoms that could affect their driving ability. However, it’s difficult to know how many crashes are related to drowsy driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that fatigue was a factor in 91,000 car accidents in a recent year, resulting in nearly 800 deaths and 50,000 injuries.
Drowsy drivers are dangerous because:
- They are less able to pay attention behind the wheel.
- Their reaction times are impaired, making it difficult to respond quickly to emergencies.
- They have a decreased ability to make good driving decisions.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can try to eliminate the negative effects of the time change in the weeks leading up to DST.
Steps You Can Take To Prevent Drowsy Driving
Sleep experts say there are some ways that you can help make the transition to Daylight Saving Time easier. Here are some suggestions:
- Make the switch slowly: Try to go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night in the week leading up to the time change. Adjust your wake times accordingly.
- Lights on: Make your room bright as soon as you wake up. Light and dark plays a huge role in human sleep cycles, so turn on the lights swiftly.
- Exercise: Even a short walk during the day can help you sleep better. Make sure to do it at least two hours before bedtime, or you could actually wake up more.
- Lay off the caffeine: Stimulants can help you wake up if you’re groggy, but they can also keep you up at night. Avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages for at least six hours before bed.
Maryland Injury Lawyer Serving Car Accident Victims
Have you or a family member been involved in a traffic accident involving a fatigued driver? Attorney Matt Trollinger will fight for you to received the compensation that you deserve.