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Daylight saving time may lead to more car accidents

Earlier this month, many Americans lost an hour of sleep as they set their clocks one-hour forward for Daylight Saving Time. This seemingly small time change has a significant effect on motorists all over the country. According to the Fatal Accident Reporting System, there is a 17 percent increase in motor vehicle fatalities the Monday after the time change. Congress first adopted daylight saving time in 1966, and in 2007, daylight saving was set to go from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday in November.

A recent study by the University of Colorado at Boulder revealed that more fatal car accidents occur on the roads the first six days after the clocks change. Over the course of ten years, there were 302 road deaths during those six days, costing nearly $2.75 billion.

What causes this increase in accidents? Many believe that it has to do with a lack of sleep. When we set our clocks ahead one hour, the result is a 23-hour day, which causes a disruption in our sleep cycles. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that number of hours slept has a huge impact on whether that driver is involved in an accident. People who sleep five hours or less a night are four to five times more likely to be involved in an accident than those who sleep eight hours or more. Unfortunately many New Yorkers continue to take to the roads while tired. With nearly three-quarters of Americans driving to work each day, one poll found that a quarter of those drivers admitted to driving drowsy at least a few days a month. This explains why most crashes occur in the early morning hours from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Driving while sleepy or drowsy can be just as dangerous as distracted driving or driving under the influence in some situations. Unfortunately, fatal accidents occur every day as a result.

Source: Telegram.com, "Deadly car crashes spike after changing clocks for Daylight Saving Time," Donna Boynton, Mar. 6, 2015

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