More sleep, but more accidents? Gaining an extra hour sleep as we “fall back” is not all it’s cracked up to be!

It’s a highly anticipated day in our world of perpetual sleep deprivation, the annual “falling back” into Standard Time. But is the luxury of an extra hour of sleep on a single morning worth the detrimental impacts of altering our body clock? Increasingly, experts are answering with a resounding – No!

Throughout this post, I discuss the reasons behind why the Autumn time change can pose a significant risk for individuals and increase the chances of personal injuries.

What is Daylight Savings and does it work?

Twice annually, clocks in many parts of the world are adjusted to maximize daylight availability during typical working hours. They advance by one hour on the second Sunday in March to initiate Daylight Saving Time (“DST”) and fall back by an hour on the first Sunday in November to revert to Standard Time.

Although Germany and Austria were the first countries to implement DST in 1916 (to save fuel during wartime), the community of Port Arthur, Ontario (part of modern-day Thunder Bay) was the first place in the world to introduce it in 1908. Other communities in the Prairies followed suit between 1914 and 1916, and Canada briefly implemented DST in 1918. It fell out of use nationally shortly thereafter but resumed during WWII. However, some provinces, territories and regions in Canada do not follow DST.

Although the bi-annual time change saves energy by reducing the need for artificial light is contested, it is currently, a practice used in more than 70 countries and affects more than one billion people.

What problems come with the return to Standard Time?

Unfortunately, if you’re a pedestrian who happens to be walking between the hours of 5pm and 8pm, this time of year marks the beginning of a period when you’re most at-risk for being involved in an accident.

Remarkably, the overall number of collisions decreases in the month leading up to the return to Standard Time. The reported “full day” pedestrian injury rate drops by 6%, reaching its lowest levels when compared to elevated figures experienced during the summer months.

However, pedestrian accident injuries increase by a staggering 19% from the yearly average between 5pm-8pm. One American study reported that pedestrians were three times more likely to be fatally injured by motor vehicles during this three-hour window in the weeks following the return to Standard Time than in the weeks preceding it.

Staying safe when we turn back time.

Knowing that this time of year can be especially dangerous for certain individuals on our streets, both drivers and pedestrians can and should take certain precautions.

Drivers must be aware that until you are used to driving with reduced light during your evening commute, you must be especially vigilant for pedestrians (especially children). Slowing down while driving through residential or high foot traffic areas provides an additional buffer for reacting to unforeseen hazards that might not be immediately apparent. This not only lessens the risk of a collision but also significantly reduces the chances of severe harm or fatality to pedestrians in case an incident does occur.

Pedestrians, who are uniquely vulnerable, should take special effort to make themselves more visible – especially on rainy days when light reflects off wet surfaces and on foggy days when visibility is reduced. Wear bright clothing or reflective material, look both ways, and take steps to make eye contact with drivers when crossing.

To help your own body manage the time change:

  • Ensure you receive sufficient sleep year round
  • Practice good sleep habits
  • Gradually delay your usual bedtime in the week leading up to the time change
  • Shift your usual dinner time later, but avoid late night snacks
  • Look for morning sunlight as early as possible to help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm

Seeking Help If You’ve Been Hurt

Motor vehicle accident injuries can cause temporary or permanent disability. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident and suffered serious injury as a result, you may be entitled to statutory accident benefits and damages from any person whose negligence caused or contributed to your injury.

Howie, Sacks & Henry LLP’s personal injury lawyers have the knowledge and experience to help you access compensation for your losses. Contact us for a free, no obligation initial consultation to learn about your legal rights and options.

Remember, when you “turn back time,” take the time to prepare for a uniquely dangerous time on the roads.

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