Permanent daylight saving time would reduce deer collisions, study finds

Permanent summer time would reduce the number of deer-vehicle accidents, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Current Biology. Researchers at the University of Washington found that year-round DST “would likely prevent an estimated 36,550 deer deaths, 33 human deaths, 2,054 human injuries, and $1.19 billion in costs each year. “.

An estimated 2.1 million deer-vehicle collisions occur in the United States each year, according to the group of researchers led by postdoctoral researcher Calum Cunningham and associate professor of quantitative wildlife science Laura Prugh. These accidents are responsible for approximately 440 deaths and 59,000 injuries, and cost a whopping $10 billion.

“Wildlife-vehicle collisions are a huge and growing problem,” Cunningham said in a University of Washington press release. “There are social costs – people killed and injured – and it’s also a conservation issue because it’s one of the biggest sources of human-caused wildlife mortality.”

Figure 1. Evolution of deer-vehicle collisions throughout the year
A figure from the study titled “Permanent Daylight Saving Time Would Reduce Deer-Vehicle Collisions”, which illustrates the changes in deer-vehicle collisions throughout the year.

Current biology

The study analyzed data, which included more than a million deer-vehicle collisions from 1994 to 2021 in 23 states, and found that the majority of collisions occurred in the hours between bedtime and sunrise. of the sun. Collisions peak in the fall – almost 10% occur during the two-week period around the change from summer to winter time, and there is a 16% increase in collisions between deer and vehicles in the week following the change to winter time.

The increase was attributed to people driving in darker conditions and the time change coinciding with deer mating season.

“Strategies such as year-round daylight saving time that reduce traffic during dark hours, particularly during the breeding season of abundant ungulates, would provide substantial benefits for wildlife conservation and reduce costs. social and economic impacts of deer-vehicle collisions,” the study said. .

In March, the US Senate unanimously passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight saving time permanent from November 2023. Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio led the campaign to pass the bill, citing research that showed an extra hour of sunlight later in the day led to reduced light levels. crime, lower rates of seasonal depression and more time for children to play outside. The bill still needs to be passed by the House and signed into law by President Biden to take effect.

According to a survey by Monmouth University, six out of 10 Americans said they preferred to make DST permanent. The majority of the United States currently moves its clocks forward one hour on the second weekend in March and back on the first weekend in November. The federal government last extended this four-week period in 2007.

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