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How does daylight savings cause drowsy driving crashes?

Kansas car accident attorney

On Sunday, we'll be setting our clocks ahead by one hour. Many Wichita-area residents look forward to the increased evening daylight brought on by daylight savings. The yearly time shift from November-March can cause a slew of problems, however. Drowsy driving crashes is one of them.

One Kansas lawmaker seeks to do away with the time change in the Sunflower State. Rep. Kristey Williams (R-Augusta) introduced House Bill 2422 to the Kansas House.

"In Kansas, most citizens don't want to stay on standard time all the time, and the reason is simple. We want more daylight hours, hours when we are awake and less when we're sleeping," said Williams.

Daylight savings factors in drowsy driving crashes

If you've ever felt a little fatigued after the spring hour change, you're not alone. The week that follows daylight savings can not only be a drag for many people, it can actually be dangerous.

We will lose one hour of sleep on the Sunday of daylight savings. In addition, our sleep schedule will be thrown off until we adjust. That can take up to a week for most people.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder identified a clockwork pattern of increased crashes each year after daylight savings. From 1996-2017, an estimated 627 people died as a result.

There are two factors that could lead to this spike in crashes each year:

  • Sleep debt: Drivers who lose an hour of sleep but never make up for it may be at risk of becoming drowsy behind the wheel. People who receive six hours of sleep or less are especially at risk of drowsy driving.
  • Morning darkness: The morning commute will be darker for many drivers after setting the clocks ahead. Lack of daylight combined with sleep loss can be a recipe for disaster.

What are the signs and risk factors of drowsy driving?

There are generally more tired drivers on the road in the days following the spring forward. Drivers should be prepared to get off the road if they notice any of these signs:

  • Frequent yawning and eye rubbing
  • Frequent blinking to stay awake
  • Eyelids feeling heavy
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Drifting from a lane

The people most at risk of drowsy driving after daylight savings include those who:

  • Receive six hours of sleep or less
  • Work overnight shifts, rotating shifts, or long hours
  • Spend long hours on the road (especially truck drivers and business travelers)
  • Have an undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorder
  • Take certain medications
  • Are under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs

Tired drivers can make the choice to either get off the road, avoid driving altogether, or put other's lives at risk. When they choose the latter, they should be held accountable. If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash with a drowsy driver, the Wichita car accident attorneys at Warner Law Offices can help you pursue justice.

Each of our attorneys has more than 25 years of experience representing injured motorists and getting results.

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