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Daylight saving time ends, but drowsy driving a risk

Every year in New York and across the U.S., an average of 328,000 car crashes occur because of drowsy driving. Some 109,000 of the crashes result in injury, and 6,400 end in death. Most people are aware that drowsiness is dangerous in drivers: It slows one's reaction times and reduces one's ability to concentrate. Yet 27% of respondents in AAA's 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index admitted to driving drowsy at least once in the previous 30 days.

Even more unfortunate is how few people understand the connection between drowsy driving and the switch from daylight saving time to standard time. Most believe that since they gain an hour to sleep, drowsiness would not pose a problem, but it does. The body needs time to adjust to what is basically a disruption of the sleep/wake cycle and circadian rhythm.

There is also the problem of night driving since the sun sets sooner after DST ends. Limited visibility puts drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, children and other road users at risk.

For this reason, drivers are encouraged to slow down, turn on their headlights in the early morning and late afternoon and never put on the high beams around other cars or pedestrians. Pedestrians should avoid jaywalking, wear reflective clothing and carefully judge the speed of oncoming traffic before crossing.

Motor vehicle crashes that occur at night or involve a drowsy driver may form the basis for a personal injury claim. With New York being a no-fault state, most people who are injured can be reimbursed for their losses through their own insurance company. If they believe they have the grounds for a third-party insurance claim, they may consult with an accident attorney. If retained, the attorney may strive for a fair settlement and litigate if one isn't achieved.

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