The change to standard time in autumn corresponds with an average in the United States, scientists report November 2 in Current Biology. The researchers estimate that eliminating the switch could save nearly 37,000 deer — and 33 human lives.In a typical year, there are more than 2 million deer-vehicle collisions — about 7 percent of total vehicle crashes. To see how much the biannual time change impacts those numbers, wildlife biologist Laura Prugh and colleagues compiled data from 23 states that tracked whether a crash involved an animal and what time the crash occurred. The team compared those numbers to traffic volumes for each state between 2013 and 2019, focusing on the weeks before and after the switches to daylight saving time in springtime and back to standard time come fall.
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Eliminating the clock change wouldn’t completely wipe out the spike in crashes — mating season plays a big role, regardless of what time sunset happens. But the scientists estimate that keeping daylight saving time year-round would decrease total deer-human collisions by about 2 percent — saving dozens of people, thousands of human injuries and tens of thousands of deer. It’s another reason for us all to move toward the light (SN: 3/31/14).