Researchers have found that although many Americans complain about losing sleep when clocks “spring forward,” the extra hour of darkness following the “fall back” can be costly and uncomfortable.
According to a recent study, crime increases nationwide in the weeks after the end of daylight saving time (DST) and the adjustment of clocks back for autumn.
The results were collated by smart home firm Vivint using FBI records from 2017 to 2021.
Each of those years has shown an increase in both the percentage and overall number of crimes committed after DST.
The study found that once daylight saving time ends, the largest rises in crime rates were for vehicle theft and robberies, which were 61% and 64.4% more likely to occur, respectively. There was an 81% increase in robberies.
Although only about a third of burglaries occur in homes with security systems—which Vivint sells—break-ins were up 16%, the firm reports.
According to other research, implementing daylight saving time year-round may help lower crime rates, particularly robberies.
According to a 2015 Brookings Institution study, removing the ‘fall back’ might directly cut robberies by 27% because it would provide more daylight in the evenings.
Researchers Nicholas Sanders and Jennifer Doleac discovered in 2012 that rapes, murders, and robberies all declined after sundown after “spring forward.” And following the end of daylight saving time, assault rates increased in major American cities, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology.
Numerous thefts, such as carjackings and business burglaries, increased between 2017 and 2021.
“Most crimes happen under the cover of darkness, that’s why things like broad daylight shootings are so shocking to the public,” said Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“Most burglaries happen when people leave the house to go to work or school — in the morning, it’s still dark out when we set the clocks back — that could be a reason, too.”
The Vivint team suggests outdoor lighting, locking your windows and doors, and drawing the curtains and blinds at night in addition to home security systems.
The biannual clock change has also drawn criticism from the US Senate. The Sunshine Protection Act, which attempts to do away with the having to ‘fall back’ every November, was sponsored by Congress last year in response to the growing disapproval among Americans of having to turn back time every autumn. The bill has not been passed by the House of Representatives.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, claims that changing the clocks is “obsolete, confusing, and unhealthy.”
“This ritual of changing time twice a year is stupid,” the senator said earlier this year. “Locking the clock has overwhelming bipartisan and popular support. This Congress, I hope that we can finally get this done.”
He has maintained that maintaining daylight saving time year-round will assist farmers, lower the risk of seasonal depression and other ailments, increase economic growth, and decrease traffic accidents, in addition to referencing the Brookings Institution’s results on robberies.
“The timing of sunset is pretty close to the time many of us leave work, and walking to our cars or homes in the dark makes us easier targets for street criminals,” the Brookings researchers wrote. “We feel safer when we’re walking in the daylight, and it’s easy to imagine why light might have a deterrent effect on crime: offenders know they’re more likely to be recognized and get caught if they’re fully visible.”
They added that most people are unable to leave work early in the winter, even if it is safer to do so.
Officially, the clocks go back at two on Sunday morning.