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Daylight Savings Leads to a Spike in Car Crashes

I pride myself in helping clients through their toughest times.- Bill O’Mara

Attorney at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers

Daylight Savings Leads to a Spike in Car Crashes

By Griff O'Hanlon, Portsmouth Personal Injury Lawyer

Daylight savings begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday when the clocks spring forward an hour. Although waking up an hour early may be a drag, the lighter nights usher in spring.

However, few people realize how dangerous daylight savings time can be on the roads. It could cost you more than an hour of sleep, and you have a greater chance of losing your life, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder study on daylight savings.

More accidents are recorded under daylight savings

The research highlighted how fatal motor vehicle accidents spike the first six days after the clocks spring ahead in March.  The study, "Spring Forward at your Own Risk: Daylight Savings Time and Fatal Vehicle Crashes" was authored by Austin C. Smith. It noted that in the first six days of daylight saving time there were 302 deaths and a cost of a staggering $2.75 billion over a 10-year period.

Statistics highlighted a 17 percent increase in traffic fatalities on the Monday after the shift. While it’s hard to believe that one hour would make such a difference, the research suggested the single hour causes a significant disruption in sleep cycles.

Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found drivers who sleep just six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in a wreck than people who sleep eight hours or more. We see particular problems with sleep deprivation in the trucking industry. Often serious accidents involving tractor trailers in Virginia occur early in the morning.

 Research suggests that sleeping less than 5 hours a night increases the risk of having a wreck four to five times. The AAA also finds more than 250,000 people fall asleep at the wheel, some for a just a microsecond. Just a few seconds of drowsiness can be the difference between life and death.

"When the clocks change — whether it is falling back or springing forward, peoples' sleep cycles are interrupted, and when sleep cycles are interrupted, they tend to be drowsy," stated Mary Maguire of AAA.

It’s interesting to note, a spike in accidents is also seen after the clocks spring back in the fall when drivers should benefit from an hour more sleep.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed there are more accidents after both the spring and fall changes. In the fall, the extra hour also appears to disrupt people’s sleep cycles makes them more drowsy.

There are certainly some questions about whether the clocks should be adjusted at all. Daylight Savings changes date to the Standard Time Act of 1918 when there was a need to cut back on coal use and energy during the war.

Be extra careful if you are driving on the roads next week and pull over and get a coffee if you feel drowsy. If you are injured due to the actions of a drowsy driver, call us for a free consultation at (757) 455-0077.

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John Cooper

John Cooper is a veteran of personal injury law practice in Virginia. A native Virginian, he was raised in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases and recently handled the largest auto accident settlement in 2010, according to VA Lawyers Weekly. The award provided $3.5 million to a child whose young father died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was rear-ended by a careless truck driver.

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Jim Hurley

Jim Hurley has been practicing law throughout Virginia for more than two-and-a-half decades. During his career, he has tried more than 100 jury trials — a staggering number — and handled hundreds more that were settled out of court. He is guided by the principle that the client is in charge of his or her case and should be kept fully aware of the litigation process. Jim has been awarded an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given, for his practice of law. He was named in Virginia Super Lawyers in 2014, 2015, 2016.

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Bill O’mara

Bill O’Mara started his legal career in 2008, moving back to his home town of Chesapeake, VA. He has practiced in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury and other litigation. He has gained extensive court room and trial experience, including contested trials before judges and juries across Hampton Roads. In 2014, Mr. O’Mara joined Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers as an associate attorney. He became a partner in 2017.

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