Drivers are more likely to hit a deer next week. Here’s why
(Gray News) – Lighter mornings and darker evenings are on the way as daylight saving time comes to an end Sunday at 2 a.m.
The shift in sunrise and sunset comes as lawmakers debate whether the long-standing tradition should be eliminated.
The Senate approved the bipartisan Sunshine Protection Act in March, which would make daylight saving time permanent, but the bill has stalled in the House.
Researchers say permanent daylight saving time would reduce the number of deer-vehicle collisions by 14%, according to a report in Current Biology.
Biologists state the practice of moving clocks forward, resulting in a later sunset, reduces the number of night-time traffic accidents.
“We saw these huge, abrupt shifts in human activity associated with the timing of sunrise and sunset, so it got us thinking if humans are responding to clock time, whereas animals are responding to the daylight time, does that then create more opportunities for human-wildlife conflict?” biologist Calum Cunningham said.
Cunningham’s team used data from the US Department of Transportation and analyzed over a million deer-vehicle crashes and 96 million hourly traffic observations across the United States.
According to the report, their analysis showed collisions are 14 times more frequent two hours after sunset than before.
Researchers used these numbers to predict that there will roughly be 36,000 deer deaths each year as a result of turning clocks back an hour in the fall.
“It surprised me how striking this pattern was, of how much more likely deer are to get struck in the hour or two after darkness,” Cunningham said. “This one-hour shift in human activity could have such a significant effect.”
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