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What are the best ideas to avoid drowsy driving car accidents after daylight saving time?

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Daylight savings is touted as a way to take advantage of daylight and save energy. It can be a nuisance for many Texas residents, however.

In 2019, Texas lawmakers proposed a constitutional amendment (House Joint Resolution 117) in the Texas House to do away with the time change. If the constitutional amendment passes, Texas would either operate on daylight saving time or standard time.

Texans have a good reason for wanting to do away with the time change. It can be a contributing factor in certain health conditions, such as fatigue and heart disease. It can also cause people to make dangerous errors at work. Most notably, the time change can lead to a spike in traffic collisions.

Does daylight savings lead to drowsy driving?

Our circadian rhythm (the body's natural clock) programs our sleep schedule, which can be thrown off by the one-hour change. It can take most people up to a week to adjust. Drivers are more likely to make errors or doze off during this time, due to drowsiness.

In fact, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder conducted a study that found a temporary spike in crashes after spring daylight savings. The study focused on more than 732,000 crashes reported in the U.S. from 1996-2017. Indiana and Arizona were excluded from the study since neither state observed daylight savings during the 22-year period.

About 627 fatalities occurred in the days that followed daylight savings each year. Researchers identified the spike in crashes in April before daylight savings was moved to March in 2007. The majority of these crashes would occur on the Monday after daylight savings. Two factors may be to blame:

  • Increased drowsiness linked to the one-hour change
  • Lack of sunlight during the morning commute, which contributed to drowsiness

How should drivers prepare?

According to Virginia Tech Transportation Institute expert Jeff Hickman, there are several ways drivers can avoid drowsy driving after the time change. These include:

  • Avoiding driving during the early morning hours (2-4 a.m.) and during rush hour traffic: These are generally the times when drowsy driving crashes occur. The risk is even greater after daylight savings.
  • Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep: Drivers will need to compensate for "sleep debt" after the time change. Getting anything less than the recommended amount of sleep can be dangerous.
  • Paying attention to signs of drowsy driving: Drivers who notice their eyelids getting heavy, frequent yawning, trouble concentrating, and difficulty staying in their lane should get off the road immediately. These signs often present themselves before a drowsy driving crash occurs.
  • Being aware of contributing factors: Drowsy driving can also be linked to driving alone, driving on long roads without any landmarks, sitting in traffic, or embarking on long drives.

Drivers who fail to heed the warning can be held accountable if they cause someone's injury or death. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a crash, get a strong legal advocate on your side who can demand justice for you and your family. Contact Laredo attorney John R. Solis to explore your legal options.

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