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Spring Forward at Your Own Risk: Daylight Saving Time and Fatal Vehicle Crashes †

Spring Forward at Your Own Risk: Daylight Saving Time and Fatal Vehicle Crashes † Abstract Daylight Saving Time (DST) impacts over 1.5 billion people, yet many of its impacts on practicing populations remain uncertain. Exploiting the discrete nature of DST transitions and a 2007 policy change, I estimate the impact of DST on fatal automobile crashes. My results imply that from 2002–2011 the transition into DST caused over 30 deaths at a social cost of $275 million annually. Employing four tests to decompose the aggregate effect into an ambient light or sleep mechanism, I find that shifting ambient light only reallocates fatalities within a day, while sleep deprivation caused by the spring transition increases risk. (JEL I12, Q48, R41 ) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Economic Journal: Applied Economics American Economic Association

Spring Forward at Your Own Risk: Daylight Saving Time and Fatal Vehicle Crashes †

Spring Forward at Your Own Risk: Daylight Saving Time and Fatal Vehicle Crashes †


American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2016, 8(2): 65­91 http://dx.doi.org/10.1257/app.20140100 By Austin C. Smith* Daylight Saving Time (DST ) impacts over 1.5 billion people, yet many of its impacts on practicing populations remain uncertain. Exploiting the discrete nature of DST transitions and a 2007 policy change, I estimate the impact of DST on fatal automobile crashes. My results imply that from 2002­2011 the transition into DST caused over 30 deaths at a social cost of $275 million annually. Employing four tests to decompose the aggregate effect into an ambient light or sleep mechanism, I find that shifting ambient light only reallocates fatalities within a day, while sleep deprivation caused by the spring transition increases risk. (JEL I12, Q48, R41) aylight Saving Time (DST) in the United States was originally implemented as a wartime measure to save energy and was extended as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. However, recent research demonstrates that DST does not save energy and could possibly increase energy use (Kellogg and Wolff 2008, Kotchen and Grant 2011). Despite mounting evidence that DST fails in its primary goal, some form of Daylight Saving Time is still practiced by over 1.5 billion people globally. In this paper I demonstrate that DST imposes high social costs on Americans, specifically, an increase in fatal automobile crashes. Employing four tests to differentiate between an ambient light or sleep mechanism, I show that this result is most likely due to sleep deprivation caused by the spring transition and the result implies additional costs of DST in terms of lost productivity nationwide. The procedure for DST is well characterized by the phrase "spring-forward, fall-back." Each year on the spring transition date, clocks are moved forward by one hour, from 2 am to 3 am. The process is then reversed for the fall transition with clocks "falling back" from 2 am to 1 am. This alters the relationship...
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Publisher
American Economic Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by the American Economic Association
Subject
Articles
ISSN
1945-7790
eISSN
1945-7790
DOI
10.1257/app.20140100
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract Daylight Saving Time (DST) impacts over 1.5 billion people, yet many of its impacts on practicing populations remain uncertain. Exploiting the discrete nature of DST transitions and a 2007 policy change, I estimate the impact of DST on fatal automobile crashes. My results imply that from 2002–2011 the transition into DST caused over 30 deaths at a social cost of $275 million annually. Employing four tests to decompose the aggregate effect into an ambient light or sleep mechanism, I find that shifting ambient light only reallocates fatalities within a day, while sleep deprivation caused by the spring transition increases risk. (JEL I12, Q48, R41 )

Journal

American Economic Journal: Applied EconomicsAmerican Economic Association

Published: Apr 1, 2016

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