Daylight savings time (DST) may be good for the environment, but researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder indicate that setting our clocks ahead each spring may cost lives. In a recent study conducted by the University, car accidents rose 17 percent in the week following the shift into DST, and again in the fall when the clocks wind back an hour. An hour of lost sleep might not seem like a lot, but the effect it has on the human body is significant.
Poor visibility due to early morning darkness and sleep deprivation are the leading causes of this spike in car accidents. The disruption to the normal sleep pattern requires an adjustment period that can last several days to almost a week. Even the extra hour of sleep in the fall is enough to throw our sleep cycles off and create extra drowsiness in the early morning hours. Drowsy driving has become a leading cause of car accidents in the United States.
The idea of DST originated with Benjamin Franklin, who theorized that an extra hour of light in the spring would allow for more work to be done during the warm weather farming season. DST officially began in 1966 when nationwide standardization was implemented. Many believe that the extra hour of sunlight in the spring and summer months saves energy since less electrical powered lighting is needed on hot summer evenings.
In recent years, electrical lighting has become more efficient, and some are questioning whether DST is still an efficient way to save energy. Air conditioning is now standard in homes and office buildings. Much more electricity is used to run an air conditioner than lighting. Moreover, with extended daylight hours, people are using air conditioners for longer periods of time.
Pedestrian fatalities also rise during the shifts into DST, and again when we return to standard time in the fall. Forty percent of all pedestrians fatally injured in New York City were struck by cars and other vehicles during the return to standard time in the fall. The shift into early evening darkness during rush hour leads to a multitude of pedestrian fatalities as drivers acclimate to the change.
Safety advocates advise all drivers and pedestrians to be keenly aware of the safety hazards related to DST changes. The change in sleep patterns and the increased risk of pedestrian and car accidents peak during this time. Daylight savings time takes effect on Sunday, March 11 at 2:00 am.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP are committed to helping our clients claim the maximum amount of compensation available. Call us at 800-222-8792 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, and we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.