By Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, January 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) – A new study shows that advancing clocks one hour in the spring and losing an hour of sleep increases the risk of fatal car accidents.
For the study, researchers analyzed data on almost 733,000 fatal car accidents that occurred between 1996 and 2017 in states that make spring change to daylight saving time (DST).
The researchers found that the risk of fatal accidents increased by almost 6% in the week after the change and was especially high in the morning and in places further west within a time zone.
That translates into 5.7 additional fatal accidents per day from Monday to Friday, or more than 28 traffic deaths during that work week.
During the 22 years studied, more than 626 fatal accidents could have been avoided by not switching to DST, according to the report published on January 30 in the journal Current biology.
"The acute adverse effects of summer time on the fatal risk of traffic accidents are real and can be prevented," said lead author Celine Vetter, a sleep scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
"Although the observed effects are of moderate size and do not last long, we should not forget that the transition to summer time affects billions of people every year and, therefore, small changes in risk can have a substantial impact in public health, "Vetter added in a magazine. Press release.
Several states have considered eliminating the change of watches, and some experts say the permanent standard time is better for health and well-being.
The annual change from spring to summer time has been linked to a number of problems, including an increased risk of heart attack, work-related accidents and suicides. The evidence also suggested an increased risk of car accidents, and this new study seems to support that.
"The impact on public health of the summer time transition with respect to the risk of fatal traffic accident is clear from our data," Vetter said. "Because our data only included the most serious accidents, that is, where a fatality was recorded, this estimate is probably an underestimate of the actual risk."
This year, summer time will begin on Sunday, March 8.