Standard Time Accidents

When Daylight Saving Time is initiated in the spring, accidents rise sharply. Researchers have noted that the Monday after the clocks go forward is particularly dangerous. This is generally attributed to sleep deprivation. When the clocks go ahead, commuters lose an hour of sleep and this loss is keenly felt in the first few days. In fact accident rates of all kinds increase in the days immediately following Daylight Saving. Several studies have even discovered a spike in heart attacks.

But what of Standard Time accidents?Drivers get an extra hour of sleep, so it is not surprising that automobile accident rates stay about the same. However, pedestrians would be wise to use extreme caution. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon found that in the week after the time change, pedestrians during evening rush hour were three times more likely to be killed by a car. This fatality rate declines through November and returns to normal by December. Researchers attributed this to a lack of adaptation: On Friday, it is still light at 6 pm, suddenly on Monday it is dark at 6. Drivers simply fail to take adequate precautions because they are used to being able to see. You can read about that study here.

Some have suggested that with these increases in car and pedestrian accidents, we should stop moving the clocks back and forth altogether. However UBC researcher Stanley Coren argues in this article that in the long term, Daylight Saving does save lives. “Traffic accident data show that accidents occur much more during the dark or lower illumination than during daylight hours… Over the time that daylight saving time is in effect, people get up and return home while the highways are brighter.” This results in a lower overall accident rate.

Most researchers offer two general suggestions to reduce the likelihood of an accident. First, avoid alcohol and caffeine during the time change, to make sure you get enough rest. Second, take extra precautions when driving: be alert to the sleepiness of other drivers during your Daylight Saving road trips, and be more aware of pedestrians during your Standard Time drive home! During Vancouver’s long, dark, rainy winters everyone needs to exercise caution and be alert on the roads.

If you are a driver, passenger or pedestrian who has been injured in an accident because of a sleepy driver, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. John Mickelson Law Corporation can help you acquire financial assistance and medical treatment. Our ICBC lawyers have the experience needed to maximize your personal injury settlement. Call us at (604) 684-0040 for a free consultation in our Vancouver or Surrey offices.

Go back to Blog
Go Back To Top