US study: Long-term daylight saving time would slightly reduce wildlife accidents

According to a US study, sticking with daylight saving time all year round could reduce accidents involving wildlife somewhat.

US study: Long-term daylight saving time would slightly reduce wildlife accidents

According to a US study, sticking with daylight saving time all year round could reduce accidents involving wildlife somewhat. This complete change would result in about 2.3 percent fewer collisions between deer and vehicles per year, as a research team writes in the journal Current Biology. Due to the time change in autumn to winter time, for example, there were suddenly more people on the streets after sunset. According to the researchers, in the week after this change, there was a 16 percent increase in such collisions.

The risk of collision depends on how much human and deer activities overlap. Deer and related animal species are crepuscular, i.e. they are mainly out and about at dawn and dusk. Accordingly, according to the researchers, collisions occurred 14 times more frequently in the evening after sunset than two hours before sunset. In addition, autumn is the animals' mating season, when their activities increase, which increases the risk of collisions anyway.

danger in the dark

According to the German Wildlife Foundation, there are no corresponding figures in Germany on the connection between wildlife accidents and the time change. "If the rush hour is in the twilight or dark, then of course the risk of wildlife accidents is greater, that's clear," said the spokeswoman for the foundation Inga Olfen. "But we are not aware of any really reliable data that shows that we have a higher number of accidents in the few days due to the time change." The foundation assumes that the peak of wildlife accidents will only shift forward by a few weeks as a result of the changeover. Even if the time stayed the same, it would come, albeit a little more slowly.

Torsten Reinwald from the German Hunting Association (DJV) also has no data on a correlation between the time change in autumn and an increased number of collisions. With a view to the morning hours, he says: "Due to the time change, the animals are confronted with significantly more traffic at dusk from one day to the next." Normally, given the same time and ever shorter days, the game has a certain opportunity to adapt to the traffic. According to the animal find register of the DJV - a database that records the animals nationwide - most accidents with wildlife occur between six and nine in the morning in autumn.

Fallow deer and wild boar affected

According to Reinwald, due to the time change, the morning rush hour for commuters suddenly begins at dusk - instead of in the dark before - and thus during the highest activity of the animals. In Germany, fallow deer and wild boar are the main accidents at this time of the year. The medium-sized deer species is now mating season and is out and about a lot, especially in northern Germany. The mating season is also approaching for the wild boar, and they are also relocating their habitat from the harvested fields back to the forests.

The German Hunting Association generally recommends reducing your speed along the edges of forests and fields that are difficult to see, especially at dusk. "If I see the reflection of animal eyes on the side of the road in the headlight cone, then I should definitely dim down, i.e. switch off the high beam," said Reinwald. Deer or roe deer would see extremely sharply and well in the twilight. And for the animals, high beam feels comparatively "as if they had night vision goggles on and a flashlight was shining in their eyes." According to Reinwald, they no longer see anything and become disoriented. Animals, on the other hand, perceive loud honking as a danger and flee away from the road.

Drivers should then brake and hold the steering wheel. "An uncontrolled evasive maneuver is always the worst solution, so it's better to accept a controlled collision," advised Reinwald. Otherwise, in the event of an uncontrolled maneuver, there is a great danger of coming into oncoming traffic or driving into a tree.

If an accident does occur, it is important to keep calm and get yourself to safety - using the hazard warning lights, safety vest and warning triangle. A dead animal can be cleared to the side with gloves to prevent subsequent accidents. "If the animal is still alive and seriously injured, then definitely keep your distance immediately," explains Reinwald. In any case, the police should be informed, who will then contact the local hunter. This can issue a wildlife accident certificate, redeem the animal or search for it.