Time Change Can Bring Increased Safety Risks

In case you missed it, it’s time to return to standard time this weekend by turning our clocks back an hour, officially at 2 a.m. Sunday. The end of daylight saving time has many Americans rejoicing; after all, who doesn’t want an extra hour of sleep or at least the chance to recoup that lost hour from last March when most of the country set clocks ahead one hour?

But despite the additional hour we gain from “falling back” or at least the perception of a more rested population, the time change actually coincides with a statistical increase in safety incidents. Some studies indicate car and truck accidents increase by as much as 5% to 10% during the week following a time change, with emergency rooms also reporting traffic spikes.

Even pedestrian incidents rise after the fall time change. According to the Carnegie Mellon University study of seven years of nationwide traffic fatalities, calculations of the risk per mile walked by pedestrians increased by as much as 186%. In fact, the study suggests that pedestrians walking at dusk are three times more likely to be struck and killed by a vehicle in the days immediately following the time change.

Several factors are thought to contribute, such as increased darkness, changes in visibility, and increased sluggishness and fatigue, but it’s important to note that safety experts caution the increase is documented in both spring and fall. That’s because any sleep change has a physiological consequence on the body, and our body clocks take at least a few days and up to a week to adjust. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you’re setting clocks back this weekend:

Be aware of the increased risk. Just being aware of the heightened risk of safety incidents helps people stay more alert and diligent, according to safety experts. Exercise extra caution and care when driving and operating heavy equipment, and remember to give others the benefit of the doubt as everyone adjusts to the change.

Reduce your sleep deprivation. Give yourself a head start by resisting the urge to overschedule in the days leading up and following a time change. Make a point to get needed rest rather than staying up later because of the time change. Sleep experts say people who rise with the light—nature’s alarm clock—will have an easier time adjusting.

Make safety a habit. Safety experts have long used the time change to encourage other safe behaviors. Use the time change to keep your home and business safer by checking and replacing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, checking and testing fire extinguishers, and performing winterization procedures for your car or home.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a home or workplace accident, the lawyers at Stevenson & Murray can help. Call us today to schedule a no-obligation consultation.

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