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Daylight saving changes increase accident risk

Though many people in Oklahoma enjoy setting back their clocks an hour each fall and getting an extra hour of sleep, first responders and police know that the changes mean more car accidents. Taking extra care driving during the week following changes to daylight saving time may help drivers prevent accidents from occurring.

The human body has an internal clock and circadian rhythm that allows it to wake up each morning, gives it the energy to go throughout the day and makes it begin winding down as the sun sets until it is time to sleep. Changes to the clock mean that this internal clock becomes disrupted. Experts believe that this can cause drivers to become drowsy while driving. Studies done by AAA have found that driving while drowsy is similar to driving drunk. Tired drivers are responsible for more than 6,000 motor vehicle fatalities each year.

When daylight saving time ends, sunset occurs at an earlier time. This means an increased number of drivers are leaving work in the dark. Dark roadways and bright headlights often cause visual disturbances that may cause accidents. Experts recommend limiting in-car distractions and cleaning headlights and windows in the week surrounding daylight saving time changes.

It's important that drivers are aware of the dangers of nighttime and drowsy driving. Drivers are responsible for ensuring that they get adequate sleep and are prepared for driving at night. If they don't and an accident occurs, they may have behaved negligently and may be held accountable for any injuries and fatalities that occur in a resulting car accident. In this case, a driver who causes an accident because he or she fell asleep while driving may have behaved negligently. The driver might then be responsible for medical damages, lost wages and pain and suffering to the injured parties.

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