Why the End of Daylight Saving Time Means More Accidents

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Now that Daylight Saving Time has ended for another year and we've "fallen back" an hour, many of us are still adjusting to things like driving into the sunrise on our way to work or driving home in the dark. Not surprisingly, the number of traffic accidents increases whenever we set our clocks back.

Many people believe that we should just leave the time alone and not go through these semi-annual time changes. As the HBO show "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" asked last spring, "How is this still a thing?"

Besides the inconvenience of having to reset the clocks on our ovens and microwaves, the time change, particularly when DST ends, actually is dangerous, both for drivers and pedestrians. As one professor who has studied DST noted, "Darkness kills and sunlight saves lives." One study estimated that year-round DST would save the lives of over 170 pedestrians and nearly 200 people in vehicles every year.

While driving in the dark means less visibility, the end of DST has other negative effects for drivers and pedestrians alike. One scholar noted that in the newly-dark hours, people still behave as though it's light in the weeks following the time change. Further, more people are out and about at 5:00 p.m. when darkness descends at the end of DST than they are in the early morning hours that now are bathed in sunlight.

Whether you're a driver or pedestrian, it's wise to be extra cautious in these days and weeks following the end of DST. Even if you're conscientious, there's no guarantee that others on the road will be. The lost hour of daylight in the evening is no excuse for reckless or negligent driving.

Source: TIME, "How Daylight Saving Time Can Be Dangerous," Justin Worland, accessed Nov. 05, 2015

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