Spring means it stays light out longer, partly because we “spring ahead” an hour due to daylight savings time (DST).
Most people enjoy having the extra hour of light in the evening, but transitioning to DST comes with a few drawbacks, including, according to some studies, negative impacts on health and an increase in auto accident rates.
Spring Transition to DST Leads to Crashes?
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) compiled 20 years’ worth of data to try to figure out whether moving to daylight savings time had an effect on auto accidents. Their data shows that in the first week after we set our clocks ahead, there is a 6% increase in the number of fatal crashes.
That amounts to 28 more deaths in that first week of DST compared to an average week. After the first week of DST, the number of fatal accidents tends to revert to normal levels.
FARS data also showed that when we “fall back” an hour in November, we do not see an increase in crash rates.
Another study that appeared in Current Biology in 2022 looked specifically at vehicle-deer collisions. Such collisions cause 59,000 injuries and about 440 deaths per year in the U.S.
That study found vehicle-deer collisions increased as much as 16% in the week following the time shift. The researchers argued that moving to permanent DST would greatly reduce the problem.
Potential Explanations for More Crashes in the First Week of DST
The FARS team theorized that more accidents happen in the first week of DST because drivers lose an hour of sleep and it takes a while to adjust. This means drivers are more fatigued in that first week and are prone to slower decision-making.
DST also means mornings are darker, making morning commutes darker, and it has been proven that more accidents happen in the dark.
Advocacy groups have been pushing harder to make DST permanent. One group argued that by getting rid of the time shift we could reduce auto accident deaths by almost 200 per year and cut pedestrian deaths by 170 annually.
Where Did Daylight Savings Time Come From, Anyway?
Daylight Savings Time in the U.S. is mandated by a federal law called the 1966 Uniform Time Act. The law does allow states to opt out of DST and go permanently to standard time, which only Arizona and Hawaii have done.
Instead of opting out of DST, a growing number of states want to be on DST permanently. 19 states have passed resolutions in recent years stating they would make DST permanent if Congress authorizes it.
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Auto accidents can happen anytime and leave you with serious injuries that drastically impact your life. If you have been hurt in a car, truck, motorcycle or other vehicle wreck in East Texas, The Fell Law Firm is here to help.