Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyers & Illinois Injury Lawyers

The End of Daylight Saving Time Sees Dangerous Increase in Motor Vehicle Collisions

| Nov 10, 2023 | Automobile Accidents |

This past Sunday, as *most of the country rolled their clocks back and people gained an extra hour of sleep, many drivers who were still on the road faced a new set of potentially dangerous side effects due to the end of Daylight Saving Time. While people may have slept in another hour on Sunday morning there is a high chance that the time they eventually went to bed on Sunday evening didn’t change. By the time everyone headed out to start their commutes on Monday morning, their bodies had not yet adjusted to the new wake up and sleep schedule and now driving is riskier than it was a week ago.

Driving in general is dangerous. There are multiple hazards around every corner and staying safe is sometimes tricky. If drivers are aware that their behavior contributes to increased risk of accidents, they can take steps to avoid unnecessary risks. Year after year, Illinois car accident attorneys notice five major factors that contribute to vehicle crashes more often in the 4 weeks after Daylight Saving time ends.

1. Fatigue

As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs fatigued drivers, especially in commercial and larger vehicles make road ways all around dangerous and are a threat to public safety. The beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time both see a spike in motor vehicle crashes while our bodies adjust to the time change. “Falling Back” during a time change means more time spent driving in the dark. The National Safety Council has found that traffic fatalities almost triple once the sun sets. Because our society is increasingly “open all hours”, it can be difficult for drivers to draw the line and take a break, which is why professional drivers are bound by regulations controlling their hours behind the wheel. Ordinary citizens most at risk for drowsy driving are those under 29 years of age and those who work late-night shifts. The NHTSA studies on drowsy driving recommend educating drivers as the best remedy to the problem. To fight off fatigue these next few weeks we recommend trying to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night and temporarily only traveling during times when you are normally awake.

2. Intoxication

13,384 died in alcohol-related collisions in 2021. These accidents involved a driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more and account for over 30% of all road fatalities in the USA. Despite multiple programs in most areas providing a ride home to intoxicated people, victims of drunk drivers make up a steady stream of consultations for car accident attorneys. There is a notable jump in vehicle collisions on the Sunday daylight saving time ends. The reason is simply that drivers were given an extra hour to enjoy late night weekend activities, many may have consumed alcohol and actually have less time to process the after effects while their body is trying to adjust to the time change. In general, you should never consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Practice extra caution the next few weeks and always ensure that you ride with someone who has not consumed alcohol.

3. Animal Collisions

Humans aren’t the only ones whose life cycle needs to adjust when the time changes. Deer-vehicle collisions are 14 times more likely shortly after dark than before the sun sets. Collisions with deer increase by 16% in the week following the autumn clock change. a new study shows. These types of crashes peak in late October and November due to less sunlight and less visibility for drivers, but these months are also mating season for deer, so they’re on the move much more often. Be mindful that there may be more deer and other wildlife making appearances on the edges of roadways shortly before winter kicks in. Take extra precautions when traveling in rural areas or around forest preserves.

4. Light skipping

Virtually everyone who has ever driven a car will admit they have accelerated to make it across the line before a light turned red. Illinois attorneys know that this behavior is an epidemic in our area, leading to over 2,000 injuries annually in Cook County alone according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Most people run red lights because they’re in a hurry or feeling impatient. The sense of urgency to get to our destination safely before it gets “too dark” out can result in an extreme miscalculation of risk and reward. Being two to three minutes late is not worth the risk of a serious collision that could harm yourself and other drivers.

5. Distraction

We’ve said it countless times in other blogs, but distracted driving is dangerous for everyone on the road. Distracted driving is a broad term encompassing everything from using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving, to touching up makeup, joking with passengers or adjusting the radio. In 2021 alone, 3,522 people died due to distracted drivers . Distracted driving in general accounts for 10% of all automobile-related fatalities. Although you may think it is easy to fight fatigue by playing with electronics or navigating your radio to your favorite local Holiday music station, you’re better off just not doing so and staying alert and paying attention to the road way.

Many of the dangers we face with the uptick in collisions at this time of year can be attributed to the body’s natural response to darkness. We want to wake up when its light and go to sleep when its dark. With it getting dark as early as 430pm in some places not only does it take some time to adjust, but our bodies resist the urge to begin our normal evening wind down. Over the next few weeks try to combat the dangers above by getting more than enough sleep; minimizing your in vehicle distractions and having patience for other drivers on the road. Someone in the car next to you may be fighting fatigue and is thrown off of their sleep cycle just like you. Most importantly, even though a route may be familiar, stay alert!

Being injured during in a car collision can be incredibly exhausting when trying to deal with the aftermath. If you or someone you know have been injured and are in need of representation do not hesitate to contact our office. For a free consultation, call 312-724-5846 or visit and use the “Contact Us” form on our homepage.