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Car accident risks: Another reason to make DST permanent

Are car accident risks related to sleep deprivation a good reason to make Daylight Saving Time permanent? Readers may recall that this time last year then-Governor Rick Scott signed into law a measure making Daylight Saving Time permanent in the state, officially taking effect last July. As you know, the change didn’t actually take effect and this past weekend many Florida residents were surprised and didn’t set their clocks ahead an hour.

Permanent Daylight Saving Time is called for in Florida and 30 other states, but permanent DST can’t actually be enacted without approval by Congress. What are the chances Congress will make it happen? No one is offering any predictions. Meanwhile, officials at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggest there are motoring safety reasons to drop the seasonal time shift from the calendar.

Sleep deprivation can cause serious or even fatal injuries

We have written before about negligence on the road resulting in car accidents causing serious or even fatal injuries. Distracted driving is high on the list of examples, but drowsy driving is also a big concern. The AAA Foundation says the shift from standard time to DST each Spring creates the potential for just such dangerous conditions.

According to the nonprofit research group, losing sleep in a 24-hour period – even only an hour – nearly doubles the risk of a crash. Lose between two and three hours of normal sleep time and driver impairment can be as bad as drunk driving. The risk of a car accident can even quadruple due to a significant lack of sleep.

Considering that DST time change happens during the period from Saturday night into Sunday morning, it’s not unreasonable to think that many on the road at that time are sleep deprived. Add the possibility of impairment from alcohol consumption and the risks of car accidents skyrocket. 

The time change certainly doesn’t excuse a driver’s responsibility to operate a safe vehicle at all times. Perhaps the thought that mandated time changes pose a sleep deprivation risk is another argument to end them once and for all. What do you think?

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