Is Daylight Savings the Worst Time To Drive?

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While summer and early fall are the most dangerous parts of the year for drivers, there is also an increased risk of getting into a traffic accident after the transition to daylight savings time in the spring.[1][2] As a result, you may want to adapt your driving habits for a little while after the clock springs forward this year.

Continue reading for more information on daylight savings time driving including why it can be dangerous and how a crash could affect your car insurance rates.

Key Takeaways

  • You are 6% more likely to get into a fatal car accident during the week following the switch to daylights saving time in the spring.
  • Factors that may contribute to this heightened crash risk include darker morning commutes, difficulty adapting to the angle of the sun and drowsiness after losing an hour of sleep.
  • Getting into a car accident will raise your car insurance rates by nearly 50% on average, while repeated accidents could prompt your insurance company to cancel your policy.

Why Should You Avoid Driving During Daylight Saving Time?

A 2020 study found that there is a 6% increase in deadly car accident risk immediately following the transition into daylight savings time each spring, accounting for nearly 30 fatal accidents throughout the United States each year that may not have happened were it not for the time change.[2]

It’s worth noting that the increased crash risk typically wanes during the week following the time change, after which driving conditions should return to normal for the overwhelming majority of daylight savings time.[2]

Nevertheless, you should be especially careful on the road for the first few days after the clock springs forward.

Read below for an overview of some of the characteristics of the first week of daylight saving time that may explain the increased crash risk that drivers encounter during this time frame and why it’s important for you to practice safer driving habits.

It’s Darker Early in the Morning

The aforementioned study found that the greatest increase in fatal collision risk following the start of daylight savings time occurs in the morning between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., which could be attributed in part to the fact that people have not yet adjusted to driving in the dark to get to work in the days immediately after daylight saving time begins.[2]

The Sun is Angled Differently in the Morning

If you’re on the road closer to 8 in the morning, you may instead find driving after daylight savings time more difficult due to the angle of the sun. Since the sun will rise nearly an hour later on the Monday after the switch to daylight saving time than on the Monday before the switch, the sun could be at a position that makes it more likely to obscure your vision, especially if you have to drive east to get to work in the morning.

For example, before daylight savings time, the sun may be high enough in the sky for you to block it with your car’s sun visor by the time you hit the road. However, once daylight savings time begins, the sun may be just above the horizon as you drive to work, making it more likely that sunlight will block your vision and put you at a greater risk of being involved in a traffic accident.

Drivers Might Be Drowsy Due to the Time Change

Perhaps the greatest contributor to fatal car accidents while driving during daylight savings time is the loss of an hour of sleep. Even though the previously mentioned study found that the highest risk for fatal crashes is in the morning, it also found that risk is still heightened in the afternoon long after the sun has come up.[2]

This suggests that the biggest factors contributing to crash risk are sleep deprivation and the disruption of circadian rhythms caused by effectively waking up an hour earlier since the effects of these naturally persist well into the day even when it’s light outside.[2]

What Are the Risks of Driving While Drowsy?

Drowsy driving is associated with a high number of car crashes each year. For example, at least 633 people died in 2020 as a result of car crashes where drowsiness was confirmed to be a contributing factor. Since it is hard to prove whether drowsiness contributed to an accident after the fact, some experts estimate that the actual number of fatal collisions involving sleepy drivers could be as high as 6,000 per year.[3]

Fatigue can have the following impacts on your body, potentially making you more susceptible to various types of crashes:[3]

  • Harder time paying attention to the road: For example, you may be more likely to drive into a deer while you are drowsy since you may not notice when it walks into the road.
  • Slower reaction time: For example, you may be more likely to rear-end another vehicle if you don’t react to the driver slowing down quickly enough to brake yourself.
  • Inhibited decision-making abilities: For example, if you notice a fallen tree branch in the road but are not thinking clearly in the moment, you might swerve your vehicle and end up crashing into a ditch when you could have just as easily avoided the branch by slowing down and driving slightly to the side of the road.

How Do Accidents Impact Your Insurance?

Your car insurance company will most likely raise your auto insurance premiums after you get into an accident, especially if you were the at-fault driver. A single accident will make your premium go up by 49% on average, although the exact increase may depend on the severity of the accident and whether your insurer offers accident forgiveness or a similar benefit.[4]

For example, if you are currently paying $1,800 per year for a full coverage car insurance policy, you could expect a daylight savings time traffic accident that you were responsible for to raise your premium to around $2,682 per year.

Traffic accidents will usually impact your insurance rates for three to five years.[4] Of course, your premiums will continue to go up if you are involved in additional accidents. If you have several accidents within the span of a few years, your insurance company could even drop you and you may have to shop for non-standard insurance from high-risk car insurance carriers.

How To Save on Insurance in Time for Daylight Savings

As you prepare for daylight savings time, you may want to shop around by comparing quotes from three to five insurance companies to make sure you are getting the best deal on the coverage you need. To get a car insurance quote from any one company, you will need to provide the insurer with personal details like your driving record and information about your vehicle like its make and model.

You can get quotes from multiple insurance providers quickly by going through a marketplace platform like SmartFinancial. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your coverage needs and budget and we’ll connect you with agents that can help you find policies that suit your requirements. Click here if you’d like to talk to an agent about getting a free auto insurance quote today.

If your primary concern is saving money on car insurance, then you should be sure to keep an eye out for potential discount opportunities as you shop around. For example, many auto insurance companies will offer you lower rates if you have gone an extended period of time without having to file a claim or have installed anti-theft devices into your vehicle.

Get Your Free Auto Insurance Quote Today!


Are there more accidents on daylight savings?

There is a 6% increase in fatal car crashes during the week following the transition to daylight savings time each spring.[2]

Are accidents likelier in the morning, afternoon or evening?

Traffic fatalities are most common in the late afternoon and evening.[1]

When is daylight saving time?

In 2024, daylight saving time begins on March 10, while daylight savings time ends on November 3.

Why does daylight saving happen?

Daylight savings time was introduced to the United States so that people would be awake for a greater portion of the day during which it was light outside and would not have to use as much energy.[5]

Should I avoid daylight savings time driving?

While you may want to be wary about driving during the week after daylight savings time begins, there is not an increased risk of car accidents throughout the entire duration of daylight savings time.[2]


  1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “On the Road Again: Higher Driver Death Rate Is a Downside of Economic Recovery,” Page 6. Accessed Feb. 13, 2024.
  2. Current Biology. “A Chronobiological Evaluation of the Acute Effects of Daylight Saving Time on Traffic Accident Risk.” Accessed Feb. 13, 2024.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel.” Accessed Feb. 13, 2024.
  4. Henson Fuerst Attorneys. “How Much Does Car Insurance Go Up After an Accident in North Carolina?” Accessed Feb. 13, 2024.
  5. Research Guides at Library of Congress. “Introduction - Daylight Saving: Topics in Chronicling America.” Accessed Feb. 14, 2024.

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