Springing forward one hour for daylight saving time can leave many Connecticut residents feeling groggy in the morning. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have found what kind of impact this can have on car crash rates. Specifically, the first week after DST sees a 6% rise in fatal crashes nationwide, coming out to some 28 additional deaths every year. The risk for a deadly crash increases the farther west one lives in a time zone.
Researchers analyzed over 730,000 fatal crashes that occurred from 1996 to 2017. One discovery that supported their conclusion was that in 2007, when DST was pushed forward from April to March, the annual rise in fatal crashes moved along with it.
The westernmost regions of each time zone experience the worst effects because the sun tends to rise and set later there. As for the “fall back” that occurs in autumn, this also raises the rate of crashes but mostly in the evening.
The results of this study correspond with other studies that have posited a link between DST and heart problems and workplace injuries in the first week after the switch. Some states, such as California, Oregon and Washington, are considering abolishing DST altogether, but there is the question of whether each state sticks to permanent standard time or permanent DST.
The study can be said to underestimate the effect of DST since it focuses only on fatal car collisions. Drowsy driving can cause crashes that lead to injury, in which case victims may pursue a claim against the guilty driver’s auto insurance company. Connecticut is an at-fault state, so there are no restrictions on who can file third-party insurance claims. Plaintiffs must be found 51% or less at fault to qualify for damages.