Effect of Daylight Saving Time clock shifts on white-tailed deer-vehicle collision rates.J Environ Manage. 2021 Aug 15; 292:112774.JE
To devise effective measures for reducing hazardous wildlife-vehicle collisions, it is necessary to know when during the year accidents occur most frequently, and what factors cause the seasonal patterns. Daylight Saving Time (DST) 1-h clock-shifts around the spring and fall equinoxes at temperate zone latitudes are associated with increased vehicle accidents, attributed to driver error caused by disrupted sleep patterns and changes in visibility during peak driving times. Collision with deer is a significant cause of motor vehicle accidents in North America; in New York State alone, 65,000 vehicle accidents annually are caused by collision with white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). We asked whether white-tailed deer-vehicle collisions (DVC) increased in frequency after DST clock shifts in New York State, by analyzing 35,167 New York State DVC reports from 2005 to 2007. For the spring, when the clock is shifted an hour forward relative to sunrise (i.e. later sunrise and sunset), there was either no change or possibly a small decrease in workweek evening DVC after the clock shift. For fall, when the clock is shifted an hour back relative to sunrise (i.e. earlier sunrise and sunset), the DVC rate was far higher than spring. The DVC rate was higher after the clock shift than before, caused in part by an ongoing seasonal trend for increasing DVC associated with deer behavior around the time of rut, peaking about two weeks after the clock shift. However, there was also a reduction in workweek morning DVC after clock-shift, but an even greater increase in DVC in the evening. DVC rates are highest around dusk and during the fall, and the fall DST clock-shift caused more workweek commuter traffic to coincide with the annual hourly period of peak risk of DVC. We conclude that in New York State, DST clock-shift results in an increase in the number of DVC, and therefore injuries and property damage associated with such accidents. The justification for DST clock-shifts is controversial; when evaluating the benefits and costs, one should include the consequences for risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions, especially in regions where ungulate-vehicle accidents are frequent, and clock-shifts coincide with the rut or other periods of peak accident risk.