November 5th signals the end of daylight saving time and the beginning of standard time. This means that on Sunday night at 2 a.m., clocks will be set back an hour. The good news is you get back an extra hour to sleep; the bad news is your health may take a hit. Turning the clocks back should technically amount to an extra hour of sleep, but this is not necessarily true. When the clocks change, whether it is falling back or springing forward, studies have found people’s sleep cycles are interrupted which actually causes them to sleep less. One hour of sleep lost or gained may sound like a small change, but studies have shown it can have major effects on both our physical and mental health. In turn, these negative health effects set off a chain reaction that affects other aspects of our life. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in a vehicle accident as those who sleep eight hours or more; people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk to be involved in a vehicle accident four to five times more.
Researchers have used the days surrounding daylight saving time changes to further determine how important maintaining a sleep cycle is on our daily life. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University analyzed 21 years of fatal car crash data from the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and a found a significant increase in the number of car accidents on the Sunday and Monday following the fall time switch. Some studies indicate as high as a 17 percent increase in traffic fatalities on the Monday after the time change. Not only are drivers affected by the fatigue that the time change brings, research indicates that more pedestrians are killed by cars during the days surrounding daylight saving time change than at any other time of the year.
Now, this does not mean that if you drive or walk the streets during the days after a time change that your fate is sealed. It simply means that you should take steps to ensure you avoid fatigue as best as possible. Here are some tips to help avoid driver fatigue:
- Get enough sleep: try not to drive while your body is naturally drowsy, which is generally between midnight and 6 a.m. or between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Drowsiness impairs a driver’s response time to potential hazards.
- Avoid drowsiness inducing medications: some of the most common medicines that make you drowsy include allergy medicines, cold medicines, or sleep aids like melatonin.
- Do not rely on tricks: many people think drinking coffee, smoking, turning up the radio, or opening a car window can help them stay alert. These may actually have adverse effects on the driver as they may distract or inhibit the driver’s decision making.
- Practice defensive driving: by staying alert and monitoring your actions as well as other drivers, you stand the best chance of avoiding fatigue symptoms as well as maintaining a readiness to avoid other negligent drivers.
Taking these steps to avoid fatigue does not ensure you will avoid it all together. While you are driving, remain vigilant to the symptoms of fatigue so you can catch them and take corrective action before they become an issue. Signs of fatigue include:
- Eyes going out of focus
- Persistent yawning
- Wandering or disconnected thoughts
- Inability to remember driving the last few miles
- Drifting between lanes
- Shallow breathing
Look out for the symptoms of fatigue and follow the tips provided above. You could save your life or someone else’s. Remain vigilant of other drivers that may be experiencing fatigue. If you notice another vehicle unable to maintain a speed or swerving in between lanes, it is best to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle. You may also want to contact local authorities who may be in a position to help the driver before they cause injuries to themselves or others. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another, please do not hesitate to call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group. Our aggressive staff know how to handle cases regarding fatigued drivers and the accidents they cause.
You can contact the attorneys at Dolman Law Group in one of the following ways:
- Call Dolman Law Group at (727) 451-6900
- Complete this online contact form
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Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765