Posted On: March 9, 2012 by Finch McCranie, LLP

Atlanta Truck Accident Risk Rises with Daylight Saving Time

It's time to spring-forward your clocks. What you may not anticipate with this annual ritual of daylight saving time is an increased risk of trucking accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere in the country.

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Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys are aware of a number of studies that prove the point.

A study in 1998 conducted by the Department of Psychology in Columbia found that when the clocks go forward, the accident rates go up - by an alarming 17 percent the Monday after the change.

In fact, the study analyzed fatal accident numbers from 1986 through 1995.

The same trend has not been observed when the clocks "fall back" just before winter, giving us an extra hour.

One theory for why this happens has to do with how much light people have on their way to work that morning. While they may be used to their morning commute being bright, the sudden shift backward an hour throws them into darkness.

Another reason is that some people may have forgotten to change their clocks. It's an easy enough mistake. When they realize it the following day, they find themselves rushing to work, speeding and engaging in other unsafe driving behaviors.

But researchers concluded that the main reason for this spike in spring crashes has to do with sleep, or rather a lack of it.

When daylight saving time was first implemented in March of 1918, it was a wartime measure aimed to reduce energy consumption and increase sunlight in the evening hours.

The thinking behind making the change on a Sunday is that most people have time to sleep in on the weekend when the time change actually occurs. Come Monday morning, however, some may find themselves especially fatigued. And studies have shown that just because people may have a little extra time on a Sunday to adjust and get used to the change, it doesn't mean they will use it that way. In fact, people tend to use it either watching television or socializing. This is going to make them more prone to tiredness behind the wheel on the way to work.

Truck drivers, in particular, are susceptible to a lack of sleep on a day-to-day basis as it is. With sleep-and-wake schedules that are already erratic, it leaves truckers particularly vulnerable to a crash.

An article published in the Journal of Public Health and Policy, called "Long Hours and Fatigue: A survey of Tractor-Trailer Drivers," investigators surveyed some 1,200 truckers at stations in four states. What they found was that more than 30 percent admitted to having exceeded their weekly hours-of-service limit required by law. Another 20 percent said they had dozed off behind the wheel at least once and sometimes more within the previous month. And while the federal government requires that truckers get a certain amount of rest time each week, travel logs are so often fudged that they are known in the industry as "comic books."

In an older study (that is no less valid today), researchers found in 1983 that a startling 41 percent of major truck crashes were at least partially attributable to truckers who had been on the road more than 15 hours without stopping.

If you or someone in your family has been injured in an accident, contact the Atlanta truck accident attorneys at Finch McCranie LLP for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (800) 228-9159 or (404) 658-9070, or contact us through this website.

Additional Resources:

Daylight Saving Time: How to Spring Forward, By KATIE MOISSE, ABC News

More Blog Entries:

FMCSA Working to Ensure Drivers Rest and Reduce Risks of Trucking Accidents in Georgia, Nation