Every year, South Carolina has 62% more fatal car crashes than the national average. Surprisingly enough, the second leading cause of these vehicle crashes is fatigue. In South Carolina, fatigue/asleep driving statistics from the Department of Public Safety for the state show that 1,221 collisions, 11 fatal collisions, 12 deaths, and 673 injuries occurred due to drowsy driving.
Across the nation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 100,000 crashes, 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses due to drowsy driving. It kills thousands of people every year, according to SC Now. The NHTSA speculates that one in every six fatal car crashes occur because the driver was fatigued.
Just like drugs, alcohol, and other substances, being tired slows reaction time and impairs judgment. In fact, being awake for 18 hours produces the same impairment as a .05 blood alcohol content. AAA released a study, revealing that people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be in a car accident compared to those who sleep eight hours or more. People who sleep less than five hours a night increase their crash risk five times.
This same study found that 41% of drivers have admitted they have fallen asleep behind the wheel. Another 25% said that they have driven despite being tired enough to have difficulty keeping their eyes open in the past month. These numbers are quite shocking.
As Daylight Savings has just recently passed, a connection is being made here. Florida is the first state to propose a stop to Daylight Savings due to its impact on citizens. Senate Bill 858 was recently approved by the Senate Community Affairs Committee. The bill, if approved by the state legislature, would observe daylight savings time year-round starting November 2019.
Representative Alan Clemmons of South Caroline says people complain when the time changes that it is disruptive, and they have asked for his help in eliminating daylight saving time for the state as well. James W. Chrissis, Associate Professor Emeritus in the field of Applied Mathematics at the Air Force Institute of Technology, weighs in on the issue.
“It’s supposed to shift the daylight later in the day so that we have more opportunity to enjoy it,” continues Professor Chrissis. “And there may be some truth to that. But it’s an inconvenience, and studies show that there is a lot of lost productivity associated with daylight saving time. Accidents go up. Some people say it has to do with energy savings, and that doesn’t happen either. It fools no one, and I think it needs to be done away with.”