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Changing clocks for Daylight Savings may increase crash risk

Daylight Savings Time requires people in South Carolina to spring their watches forward one hour in March, costing them at least one hour of sleep that night in the process. According to the Foundation for Traffic Safety, operated by AAA, missing one or two hours of the recommended sleep time in a single period of 24 hours may as much as double the person's risk of a car accident. Typically, drivers require seven hours of sleep each night in order to drive safely.

According to the director of the Foundation for Traffic Safety, research indicates that people who have slept for less than five hours the night before have a risk of crash comparable to a person who is driving drunk. They cannot fail to get enough sleep and still be expected to safely operate a motor vehicle, he said. In a survey of drivers, 95 percent said they think drowsy driving is completely unacceptable and a serious safety threat. At the same time, almost 30 percent of respondents said they had driven so tired they had trouble keeping their eyes open in the previous month.

The warning signs of drowsiness include drifting from traffic lanes, not remembering driving, and struggling to keep eyes open. The body's need for sleep will overcome tactics like singing, drinking coffee or driving with the windows down. Drowsy driving significantly increases the risk of a crash, and the only remedy is to get enough sleep.

People who are injured in car accidents with drowsy drivers might have claims for recovery for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills or other damages. An attorney with experience practicing personal injury law might be able to help injured parties by putting together a case for trial or by negotiating a settlement with at-fault parties or insurance companies. In cases that cannot be settled, an attorney may draft and file a complaint for damages in civil court.

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