It has long been known that daylight saving time comes with certain health and safety risks. New research from the University of Colorado Boulder has even found that the first week of spring DST sees an increase in the number of fatal car crashes. Indiana residents should know that it is a 6% increase and amounts to an average of 28 fatal crashes every year.
For their study, researchers analyzed over 730,000 crashes between 1996 and 2017. They found a consistent rise in fatal crashes every year after the start of DST. This held true even when the start of DST was altered from April to March in 2007. Fatal crash numbers rose 8% on the westernmost edges of each time zone since these areas experience a later sunrise and sunset.
The “mini jetlag” caused by the loss of one hour of sleep has been shown to lead to other adverse events, including on-the-job injuries and heart problems within the first week of DST. Its effect on drivers can be especially worrisome since drowsy driving can be likened to drunk driving.
There are ways that drivers can mitigate the impact of DST. These include going to bed earlier a few days before the switch, avoiding heavy meals before bed and avoiding exposure to the light from phones and TVs.
A crash caused by a drowsy driver can form the basis for a personal injury case, but victims may want a lawyer by their side. Indiana adheres to the modified comparative fault rule, which states that plaintiffs can recover damages if they are 51% or less at fault. A lawyer may help victims negotiate for the maximum possible settlement, one that covers medical expenses, vehicle repair costs, lost wages and whatever else applies. As a last resort, victims may litigate.