Impaired Driving and Daylight Savings Time

Two new bills were introduced this year to the Michigan legislature to end daylight savings time. Michigan adopted daylight savings time (DST) just 42 years ago in 1973 to conserve energy.  By extending daylight hours during summertime, it was intended to reduce the use of artificial lighting.  However, these two bills claim that more energy is consumed because of daylight savings time due to air conditioning during daytime hours. 

DST has a physiological effect due to losing an hour of rest in the spring. This creates a lack of productivity, more tardiness during the first week of daylight savings time, and is the cause of more strokes on the Monday following DST.  These factors and others contribute to impaired driving.

Two primary conditions that are the result of DST also contribute to the conditions of impaired driving:  night driving and disrupted sleep patterns.

Any change in sleep pattern can cause an inability to concentrate. Chris Hayes of Travelers Insurance points out that, “The ability to see what is happening ahead of you and to react to it is one of the most important things in driving.” He adds, “One of the things that goes along with this is sleep. If you just lack one hour of sleep, if people stick to their normal sleep schedule, that can have quite an impact.”

Additionally, Mary Maguire, director of public and government affairs for AAA of Southern New England noted that interrupted sleep cycles make for drowsy people and that some police departments have reported as much as a 10 percent increase in crashes during the spring ahead time change.

If either of Michigan’s bills to end daylight savings time are passed and made into law, it could provide one less factor in impaired driving and making Michigan a safer place to drive.

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