Return to Standard Time Could Put Students at Risk

Last Sunday at 2 a.m., UT went back to standard time, and with it came an increased risk for students crossing Kennedy Blvd.

The end of daylight savings time can cause temporary confusion while students’ bodies readjust to the new time. But a new study shows that there might be a bit more to worry about than being late to class when it comes to winding back the clocks.

Research by professors Paul Fischbeck and David Gerard of Carnegie Mellon University shows that ending daylight savings time means that pedestrians are three times more likely to be struck and killed by cars than they were in October — at least around the hour of 6 p.m. The researchers say that the risk for pedestrian death at 6 p.m. is higher in November than in any other month during the year.

They also say that the fatality risk is only for pedestrians, and that no fatality increase was seen for drivers or their passengers.

According to the study, the time change translates into about 37 more deaths by pedestrians, a 186 percent per-mile risk.

Professors Fischbeck and Gerard say that the increases in deaths are not because of the darkness itself, but because of how people adjust to the earlier arrival of night.

UT students often cross major roads such as Kennedy Boulevard and North Boulevard to get to their dorms or the West parking garage.

Kevin Howell, assistant director of safety and security, recognizes that the time changes can increase the possibility of pedestrian deaths.

For UT students, however, Howell does not predict a problem.

“As long as students utilize the same concern for their safety whether it is dark or not, which I think they already do, there shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.

The study shows that after November, the per-mile risk drops by 21 percent, likely because pedestrians have gotten used to the time change.

By April, when the clocks return to daylight savings time, the risk drops 78 percent.

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