Daylight Saving & Accidents: It's Dark SO Early!
Once again, we are dragging around a bit more than usual because Daylight Saving Time (DST) ended at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, and we all had to fall back! With so much conversation around why we’re doing this, we decided to do some research and answer those questions for you.
Daylight Saving Time was first implemented here with the Standard Time Act of 1918. The idea was that it would be a wartime measure for seven months during World War I in the interest of adding more daylight hours to conserve energy resources. We did it again during World War II. It’s not clear whether it really does conserve energy and resources, though. Some observations show that DST does not conserve energy and resources.
Not all states in the U.S. observe DST.
Hawaii and Arizona do not. Puerto Rico does not observe it, either, and neither do American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many states have adopted resolutions to allow “full-time DST” including, Arkansas, Alabama, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. A change to full-time DST would require congressional approval. If the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 becomes law, the bill would make DST the new, permanent standard time as of Nov. 5, 2023. That means once clocks spring forward next March, there’s no more falling back. The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill on March 15. It now awaits a House vote but no one is sure whether it will make it up for a vote.
Does changing time cause more accidents? In short, yes.
A detailed scholarly analysis by Austin Smith published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics in 2016 found that the spring transition into DST increases fatal crash risk by 5–6.5 percent. Another study came to the same results – fatal car accidents in the United States spike by 6% during the workweek following the "spring forward" to daylight saving time. The problems with more accidents and “springing forward” seems to be just after the transition. Another study found that more daylight at the end of the day might have resulted in fewer pedestrian and vehicle occupant fatalities and seasonal depression certainly becomes worse in the fall and winter with fewer opportunities to see the sun.