What does NHTSA have to say about traffic accidents and daylight savings time:
It has been shown through analysis of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) that the Monday and Tuesday following daylight savings time change has a 17% increase in traffic fatalities. Researchers theorize that the loss of one hour means that people just may not get enough sleep. This theory is supported by FARS data that showed that there was a decrease in motor vehicle accidents when daylight savings time ended in the fall.
Daylight savings time has also been shown to have negative effects on people with higher rates of heart attacks and workplace injuries, although not to the magnitude of traffic accidents.
Another factor for increased traffic accidents due to daylight savings time could be the sudden change in sunrise time. For example, before daylight savings time in New York City, New York, civil twilight starts at approximately 5:50 a.m. with sunrise occurring at 6:15 a.m. This early sunrise is typically before or during the early part of the rush hour commute. After daylight savings time begins, civil twilight starts at approximately 6:40 a.m. with sunrise at 7:10 a.m. This means that the sun is rising and could cause sun glare to commuters driving during rush hour commutes.
Some published suggestions to help people adjust to daylight savings time:
- Start adjusting sleep, meals, and exercise schedules ahead of time. Start with a ½ hour change on the Friday night before daylight savings time change which occurs on Saturday night.
- For those persons greatly affected by a sudden change of daylight savings time, a time shift of ¼ hour (15 minute) intervals 4 or 5 days in advance may be necessary.
- Exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, first thing in the morning has been shown to help.
- Take mind with caffeine use after daylight savings time. Don’t over-consume caffeine after daylight savings time to combat the effects of daylight savings time. Overconsumption of caffeine may affect a person’s ability to subsequently sleep.
- Take the time to adjust. It will take approximately a week (or more) to fully adjust to the new light-dark, day-night cycle. Adjust work or personal schedules so that critical deadlines, long driving trips, or difficult tasks don’t occur immediately after daylight savings time change.
ARCCA has the multi-discipline background to assist with motor vehicle accidents, human factors issues, and workplace accidents.