Daylight Saving Time and Motor Vehicle Crashes: The Reduction in Pedestrian and Vehicle Occupant Fatalities

  • Published: American Journal of Public Health, Volume 85, No. 1, 2001
  • Authors: S.A Ferguson, D.F. Preusser, A.K. Lund, P.L. Zadorand R.G. Ulmer
  • Date Added: 18 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 18 Mar 2013
  • Format: pdf

Objectives:

To determine the effect of daylight savings time on road casualties.

Methodology:

Fatal RTIs were tabulated for 6-hour period around sunrise and sunset, from 13 weeks before the Autumn change to standard time until 9 weeks after the spring change to daylight saving time. The effect of daylight saving time on pedestrian and vehicle occupant fatalities was estimated from a model relating light level during morning and evening hours to fatal motor vehicle RTIs. The model accounts for both the abrupt changes in morning and evening light levels associated with the April and October time changes and the gradual day-to-day changes in light level in a given hour with the changing seasons of the year.

Key Findings:

  • Fatal-RTI occurrence was related to changes in daylight, whether these changes occurred abruptly with the Autumn and Spring time changes or gradually with the seasons of the year.

  • During daylight savings time, which shifts an hour of daylight to the busier evening traffic hours, there were fewer fatal RTIs (727 involving pedestrians, 174 involving vehicle occupants) than might have occurred if daylight saving time had been retained year-round from 1987 through 1991.

  • The most notable effects of changing light levels on fatal RTIs were seen when light levels changed from light to twilight (RTIs increased) and when twilight changed to light (RTIs decreased). These effects were greatest for pedestrians.

  • The results of this study provide strong support for the proposition that daylight saving time saves lives; extending it farther into the winter months could save additional lives. This conclusion is consistent with previous research conducted in the United States and Great Britain.

Themes:

Daylight saving, Casualty reductions.

Comments:

Study is US based but the results are comparable with research conducted in Great Britain.

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