As residents across South Carolina prepare to turn their clocks ahead for daylight saving time, many will likely lament losing an hour of precious sleep. While one missed hour of sleep may seem insignificant, research and statistics prove that such disturbances in one’s sleep pattern can adversely impact an individual’s ability to process information, focus and stay awake.

According to a survey by the Better Sleep Council, more than 60 percent of U.S. residents reported feeling the ill-effects of DST. One place people seem to especially notice the loss of sleep is when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. According to the Fatal Accident Reporting System, fatal crashes spike 17 percent the Monday following DST. What’s more, the lingering effects of DST-induced drowsiness may last for days after the time change.

Every day millions of Americans drive and, according to the National Sleep Foundation, 27 percent admitted to driving while overly tired three or more days per month. Drivers who are overly tired pose a safety risk to everyone with whom they share the road and may experience delays in reaction time and trouble staying focused, both of which are essential to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Drowsy driving is also a widely accepted practice and there’s no test to determine whether or not a driver is too tired to drive. Drivers, therefore, must use their best judgment when determining whether or not they are simply too tired to drive. In cases where a driver notices that he or she is spacing out, having difficulty focusing and even nodding off; it’s important to pull off the road. Taking even just a 10 minute nap can mean the difference between arriving safely at one’s destination or being involved in a traffic accident.

Source: Telegram.com, “Daylight saving time may help drivers nod off,” Donna Boynton, March 6, 2015