March 10, 2016
Scientific and DOT data show changing clocks increases incidence of crashes
As part of Vision Zero, DOT will lead a social media effort to increase awareness of dangers of next week’s morning commute
NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg today issued an alert to drivers about the dangers posed next week by the arrival of daylight savings time. Clocks will move ahead one hour at 1:00 AM this Sunday, March 13, and the Mayor noted the loss of sleep requires that everyone exercise extra care and caution, especially during morning hours.
“As New Yorkers spring forward this weekend, we all know that we lose a precious hour of sleep,” said Mayor de Blasio. “What the scientific community has also shown us is that just one lost hour of sleep, combined with newly dark mornings, makes next week especially dangerous. As part of Vision Zero, our successful effort to reduce collisions, commuters need to be aware of this serious disruption to their normal patterns and rhythms. Drivers need to be alert and make allowances for themselves, as well as for their fellow commuters walking to work or for kids crossing the street on the way to school.”
According to DOT crash data over five years (2010-2014), a comparison of the week before the daylight savings change to the week after the change shows a 10 percent increase in fatalities and injuries. Looking only at the morning hours (between 5 and 10 AM), the week-to-week increase is 30 percent. Sleep scientists and researchers have also shown a clear correlation between semi-annual daylight savings changes and a rise in motor vehicle collisions. For example, in a 2001 article in the journal Sleep Medicine, entitled “Fatal Accidents Following Changes in Daylight Savings Time: The American Experience,” Jason Varughese and RP Allen studied two decades of collision data and concluded that crashes showed a “significant increase…immediately following the spring shift to DST.”
“Driving in morning darkness with an hour’s less sleep can be a perilous combination,” said Commissioner Polly Trottenberg of the Department of Transportation. “One of our major goals for Vision Zero is about increasing awareness and changing behavior: New Yorkers should know that driving when you are even a little sleepy makes you more likely to make dangerous choices behind the wheel.”
On social media, DOT will offer tips for drivers next week, including admonition to drive defensively and to expect the unexpected, especially during 6:00 AM and 7:30 AM, when the mornings will be significantly darker than they are this week.
In January, after announcing on Queens Boulevard that 2015 had been the safest year ever on New York City’s streets, Mayor de Blasio announced several new Vision Zero initiatives for 2016. In addition to the expansion of the bike network, he announced a new $115 million investment in street redesign and traffic-calming measures on key thoroughfares citywide, a pilot project to reduce left-turn collisions, targeted NYPD enforcement to protect seniors, increased use of speed-enforcement cameras and more intensive safety education in collaboration with the Department of Education in elementary and middle schools.
For more information about the de Blasio administration’s Vision Zero initiatives in 2015 and 2016, please visit here.