Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #768

Spring Forward, Don’t Fall Back – The Effect of Daylight Saving Time on Road Safety

by Christian Bünnings and Valentin Schiele

RWI, 10/2018, 34 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-896-7 DOI: 10.4419/86788896

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Abstract

In this paper, we analyze the effect of light conditions on road accidents and estimate
the long run consequences of different time regimes for road safety. Identification is
based on variation in light conditions induced by differences in sunrise and sunset
times across space and time. We find that darkness causes annual costs of £790 million.
By setting daylight saving time year-round and, hence, shifting more daylight to the
evening, 10 percent of these costs could be saved. Thus, focusing solely on the short
run costs related to the transition itself underestimates the total costs of the current
time regime.

JEL-Classification: R41, Q48

Keywords: Road accidents; light conditions; daylight saving time

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