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This weekend we're all winding our clocks back an hour. (Or our cell phones and smartwatches are doing it for us.) Some of us, author included, consider Daylight Saving Time an antiquated hassle that needs to go the way of the horse and buggy. But some new crime statistics make a pretty good argument to make Daylight Savings Time permanent.
It turns out that having more daylight in the evening (a function of setting our clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time) reduces crime rates. So perhaps we can't just junk this weird time shift that no one understands without creating some safety risks.
According to researchers at the Brookings Institution and Cornell University, the majority of street crime occurs when many people are on their way home from work, usually 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. By resetting our clocks in the Spring and adding more light during those hours, potential victims could more easily identify potential threats and more easily avoid them. More light also helps identify criminals after the fact.
The study's authors were able to measure the effects of the time change beginning in 2007, when Congress increased the period of Daylight Saving Time by four weeks. Jennifer Doleac and Nicholas Sanders write that "when DST begins in the spring, robbery rates for the entire day fall an average of 7 percent, with a much larger 27 percent drop during the evening hour that gained some extra sunlight."
Not only could DST make us safer, it could save us some money, too. The Washington Post points out that constantly shifting our clocks "is a major disruption to our daily rhythms, resulting in increased rates of heart attacks, car accidents and work injuries." And the Doleac and Sanders estimate the DST extension in 2007 saved the country $246 million, based on the social costs of crime.
So let's just pick one time and go with it. And crime-fighting Daylight Saving Time sounds fine to me.
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