AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to a press release from Eastern New Mexico University, a press conference to address the link between highway death rates and the time zone in Amarillo is set for Monday at 10 a.m. at the Downtown Amarillo Public Library.
According to a new research study provided by ENMU, those living in Amarillo and Midland- Odessa are impacted by traffic accidents in greater numbers because “their clocks are out-of-sync with the sun” and greater deaths occurred when people did not wake up with the sunrise.
Around two-thirds of people should be living in Mountain Time with ENMU stating that Midland-Odessa is in the Central Time Zone while El Paso is in the Mountain Time Zone. Midland-Odessa’s fatality rate was double the national average and three times greater than El Paso’s, which is the only part of Texas located in Mountain Time.
In Amarillo, statistics show that highway deaths are 85% above the national average, according to ENMU researchers who also found a 21.8% higher vehicle-fatality rate where “social time is disconnected from clock time.”
Residents of Amarillo may experience an early wake-up before dawn and therefore the normal sleep cycles and patterns are negatively impacted, said researchers.
“We were shocked by the thousands of unexpected deaths in these erratic time zones,” said lead researcher Jeffery Gentry.
Another example used by ENMU researchers was the town of Terre Haute, Ind., located in the Eastern Time Zone. The movement of the sun should place Terre Haute in Central Time like the nearby town of Champaign, Ill. ENMU research showed that Terre Haute’s vehicle fatality rate was 53% higher than Champaign’s due to its location.
Pacific Time, according to ENMU, was not impacted by these shifts as the sun matches the zone which has the “safest roads in the country.”
Outside research from Mikhail Borisenkov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, addressed the time zone study as a “significant contribution to applied chronobiology,” which is the science of 24-hour physiological processes, added ENMU.
“We hypothesized a problem based on established theory. We looked for it, and we found it,” Gentry added. ENMU researchers also indicated that time zone boundaries should be shifted east to match solar time or that schools and businesses should open at 8:30 a.m. rather than 8 a.m.
Gentry, according to ENMU, hopes that the study “drives the final nail in the coffin in the case for Daylight Saving Time.”