The Electric Commentary

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Daylight Savings Kills

Adding to the argument for either making daylight savings permanent, or eliminating it altogether, we have this study, from Marginal Revolution:

...following the spring shift to Daylight Savings Time (when one hour of sleep is lost) there is a measurable increase in the number of traffic accidents that result in fatalities. Furthermore, it replicates the absence of any “rebound” reduction of accidents following the fall shift to DST (when the opportunity is present for an additional hour of sleep).


  • It seems a few extraneous variables were not controlled for in this study. It would have been nice to see if there was an increase in the number of cars on the road due to spring travel and if there was a regional difference in the number of fatalaties or whether most of those fatalities were in large cities. What about Spring Break traffic? What were the ages of the people that died or were involved in accidents? Although it seems like interesting findings, I'm still skeptical that DST alone is responsible for the increase.

    By Blogger NLock, at 8:50 PM  

  • Sounds like some do go reformers have found something else that needs fixing. A few people get in accidents and the system needs changing.

    Next thing they'll tell me I can't choose to drive with a cell phone on.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:49 AM  

  • I find it a bit bonkers that we change the clocks anyway.
    My mother-in-law in South Africa thought we were making it up when we told her that the clocks went forward and backwards an hour in the spring and autumn. It's a concept that seems utterly absurd in other countries.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:29 AM  

  • "when the opportunity is present for an additional hour of sleep"

    I don't want to start a new controversy like I started in the last daylight savings discussion thread, but I fail to see how changing daylight savings gives anyone an opportunity "for an additional hour of sleep". If you're sleeping so little that you're a danger to yourself and others when you drive, you should stop driving or get more sleep. That's a matter of personal responsibility. Changing the clocks has nothing to do with it.

    By Blogger MDS, at 10:45 AM  

  • I'm not sure what you mean. It's talking about the one 23-hour day and one 25-hour-day that are the result of daylight savings time. On the 23 hour day, people still have all the same stuff to do that they normally do, or their body clock can't be changed in one day, so the lost hour is a lost hour of sleep. Conversely, on the 25-hour-day people use the extra hour to do more stuff, not to get more sleep. So while traffic accidents are up on the day following the 23-hour-day, they are not down on the day following the 25-hour-day. Maybe you are right that it is personal responsibility, but what world do you live in where you can just skip work the day after the clock changes because you need more sleep? Have you never driven your car when you were tired before?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:20 AM  

  • Usually people know well in advance when the clocks will change. Isn't it a workers personal responsibility to get a little extra sleep that night, if needed, so they won't be driving tired or need to skip work?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:49 AM  

  • So just one less hour of sleep and you can't drive anymore? I doubt it. Sounds more like people were a bit slow to start and rushing to get to work on time. Even the Super Bowl results in deaths, but it doesn't mean we should stop having it. People just need to be responsible.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 5:10 PM  

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