Sleepy Driver Onset Credited to Daylight Savings Time
Laura Mireles is one of many Northeast Arkansas residents that says she is finding it difficult to adjust her schedule after losing an hour of sleep to daylight savings time.
"When I wake up, I still feel sleepy," says Mireles, "I just felt like I was running late for school. And it just didn't feel right."
More delayed and drowsy drivers are taking to the road this week. Corporal Jason Elms of the Paragould Police Department is dealing with the consequence.
"I worked a fatality where a woman fell asleep behind the wheel, and ran off the road into a tree," states Elms. The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration estimates that 100,000 accidents, and more than 1,500 fatalities a year are caused by driver fatigue.
Sleep studies from the New England Journal of Medicine indicate that there are actually more car accidents in the three days that follow the daylight savings time shift than any other time of year. Dr. Cohen of St. Bernard's Clopton Clinic says it can be credited to micro-sleeps.
"The daylight savings time change is kind of like jet-lag," says Dr. Cohen. "If you're sitting there at your desk, you can have a micro-sleep and probably not even know it. But if you're driving your car, and something happens that you need a reaction too, then you'll probably miss it."
Cohen says that the jet-lag feeling can last upwards of three days, even up to a week. To help alleviate sleep-impaired driving, Corporal Elms advises that drivers give themselves time to adjust.
"Pull over, get out of the car, and walk around for a little bit," suggests Elms. "Help wake yourself up before you get back on that road. Because it's not just your life. It's someone else's."
Additional advisories include winding down your car windows, and cranking up your car radio. Especially if you're alone, and driving long-distances.