Residents of New Mexico probably know that the spring forward to daylight saving time can be a controversial issue. A recent study from the University of Colorado Boulder is just one in a long line of studies showing how DST can have an adverse effect on health and safety nationwide. The study focuses on the first week of spring DST and how it sees an increase each year in fatal car crashes.

That increase came to 6%, which means that about 28 fatal crashes occur annually as a result of the transition to DST. In the first week after the time change, those who live in the westernmost regions of each time zone actually see a rise of 8%. The sun rises and sets later in these regions, and the inhabitants tend to sleep less than those elsewhere.

Previous studies have linked DST to a greater number of heart attacks and workplace injuries in the first week. This new study has shown that the link between DST and fatal crashes is not coincidental. The spike was seen consistently after DST even when the date for its beginning was pushed forward from April to March in 2007.

Whether DST related or not, drowsy driving is a serious form of negligence. Like drunk driving, it is characterized by inattention, impaired risk assessment abilities and slow reaction times.

Those who are hurt in a car crash at the hands of a drowsy, drunk or inattentive driver can be eligible for compensation under personal injury law, but they may want a lawyer to evaluate their case first. Under New Mexico’s pure comparative negligence rule, victims can file a claim regardless of their degree of fault. Naturally, that degree of fault will influence their chances of succeeding as well as the amount they might recover in damages. A lawyer may be able to negotiate for a fair settlement.