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Study: ‘Spring forward’ can lead to spike in deadly crashes

Study says early morning hours are most dangerous

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – No matter what time your alarm is set to go off, for some, losing an extra hour of sleep can have a domino effect. New data suggest springing forward can result in more fatal car crashes.

Researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, looked at more than 732,000 crashes from 1996 to 2017. They found a 6% spike in deadly crashes in the week following the time change. That number goes up to 9% when you only look at crashes before noon when it’s darker, and drivers are most tired.

Researchers found two main reasons: sleep deprivation and what is known as “circadian misalignment," a disruption in your internal clock.

The researchers found the risk for a deadly crash is highest in the morning after the time change. On the other hand, they also examined the fall, when we fall back an hour. The study shows they did not see a similar rise in accidents.

Researchers also found people who live farther west had a higher risk than those on the east coast. News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said to cut down on the risk of a crash this week, hitting the sack earlier is a good step to help your body adjust.

"Be prepared for it," Jefferson said. "Go to bed an hour earlier than you normally would so that we can all be safe."

The study also shows 28 deaths a year can be linked to the time change. The researchers say the risk could be avoided by eliminating daylight saving time. Florida lawmakers voted to end the change a couple of years ago. For it to take effect, Congress would first need to amend the U.S code. It has yet to act on it.


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