The sun will set in Louisville at 6:42 p.m. on Saturday, March 7, 2015 and most Kentuckians hope that the cold and darkness of winter will set with it.

While spring won’t officially start for a few more weeks, Daylight Saving Time will begin at 2:00 a.m. on March 8. That will push the sunset in Louisville to 7:43 p.m. on March 8. The adjustment is not because we’ve gained another hour of sunlight, but rather because we will set the clocks ahead one hour beginning at 2:00 a.m. that night.

The Extra Hour of Sunlight at the End of the Day May Come With a Price

By setting the clocks ahead one hour, we all “lose” one hour of the night on March 8. This can have a significant effect on traffic accidents on March 9. Since at least the mid-1990s the dangers of losing just one hour of nighttime sleep have been documented. In 1996, the New England Journal of Medicine reported an eight percent increase in accidents following the spring Daylight Saving Time change. Conversely, fewer accidents were reported after the fall time change when we “gain” one hour of overnight sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation has found that drowsy driving that occurs after Daylight Saving Time and at other times of the year causes:

  • One in eight accidents that require hospitalization for accident injuries.
  • One in six accidents that result in death.

March 1–8, 2015 is Sleep Awareness Week, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The dates of this important awareness week are no accident. The week was carefully chosen to end when many Americans, including Kentuckians, lose an hour of sleep for Daylight Saving Time. While we welcome the moderating temperatures, the hints of spring, and the longer days, we encourage everyone to be aware of the risks of drowsy driving so that serious injuries and deaths can be avoided this year.

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law