According to Dr. Russell Rosenberg, sleep specialist and founder of Neurotrials Research in Atlanta, the return of Daylight Saving Time isn’t simply an inconvenience where people get up an hour earlier than they’re used to. The time change also impacts health and creates driving risks. Rosenberg was quoted by Fox 5 as stating that these driving risks include having more difficulty paying attention when driving. Studies reveal that the rate of car accidents increases by about 6 percent in the days immediately following the transition to Daylight Savings Time.
As explained in a report from Business Insider, the increased risks associated with Daylight Saving Time revolve around the lost hour of sleep when the clocks “spring forward.” Sleep experts estimate that most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night in order to function properly during waking hours. Many Americans are already sleep-deprived due to busy work schedules, shift work, and other issues. Losing an additional hour means more fatigued drivers on the roadway during the morning commute and a higher risk of driving performance errors caused by sleep inertia.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) — the agency tasked with regulating the U.S. trucking industry, which is an industry deeply familiar with the risks of fatigued driving — notes that sleep inertia is the impairment of a variety of performance tasks that occur when a person gets behind the wheel shortly after waking. The tasks commonly impaired by sleep inertia include short-term memory, vigilance, and reaction time. Just as sleep inertia can impact truck drivers who transition quickly from sleeping in their truck’s sleeper berth to operating the vehicle, it can also impact area commuters who will be out of bed and on the road an hour earlier next week.
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