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Start of daylight saving means higher risk for fatal crashes

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have published a study in the journal Current Biology that reveals a link between the start of daylight saving time and an increase in fatal car crashes over the subsequent workweek. They analyzed 733,000 fatal car crashes that occurred between 1996 and 2017 in the states that observe DST, including New Mexico.

It turns out that the risk for a fatal car accident rises 6% in the week after the switch to DST. This came to an extra 5.7 fatal crashes each day from Monday to Friday, or more than 28 fatalities for the whole week. Researchers found that the risk is particularly high in the mornings and the farther west one goes in a given time zone.

The study claims that 626 of the fatal crashes that occurred in that 22-year period could have been prevented if the U.S. stuck to a permanent standard time instead. Researchers emphasize that the study may even underestimate the effect of DST since it focuses only on fatal crashes.

It's true that losing one hour of sleep in the switch can lead to drowsy driving. Experts have shown that this loss can have a negative impact on public health; however minor it seems, it is still an effect that millions of people experience.

When drowsy driving is to blame for auto accidents, it can open up the possibility for a personal injury lawsuit. In a lot of accidents, though, the fault does not lie entirely with one driver or the other. This is where New Mexico's comparative negligence law comes in. Plaintiffs may have their compensatory damages reduced according to the degree to which they contributed to a crash. To ensure a sufficient settlement amount, then, victims may want to talk with a lawyer.

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