Living in Arizona, we don’t exactly have to deal with the issue of Daylight Savings. For the majority of us, that is the way we like it! And, as it turns out, there are others whom would agree with us and want to do away with the clock tampering altogether. Not all of them are as fortunate as us to live in a place that doesn’t observe Daylight Savings time, which currently is only Arizona, Hawaii, and a few other US Territories.
Here are two articles about Daylight Savings time, one from NPR.org that argues against Daylight Savings, and the other from CNN.com that argues for it. Read them both and comment your thoughts! We’d love to hear what you think of this debate.
Daylight Saving Time Is Here Again. So Is The Debate About Changing The Clocks
In general, the time change gets a bad rap. An AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted last fall found that 71% of respondents want to end the practice of changing the clocks. In all, 40% favored year-round standard time, while 31% said they’d prefer year-round daylight saving time.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) says moving the clock forward by an hour saves energy by providing an extra hour of sunlight in the evening, thus reducing the need to use household electricity for lighting. The agency says that it also prevents traffic injuries because more people are commuting during the daylight and that it helps cut crime because “more people are out conducting their affairs during the daylight rather than at night, when more crime occurs.”
However, research on the effects of daylight saving time has also revealed drawbacks, and whether it truly helps conserve energy remains in question. One 2009 study of miners, for example, found that in comparison with other days, on Mondays directly following the start of daylight saving time, workers “sustain more workplace injuries and injuries of greater severity” due to tiredness. Another study, published in 2007 in the journal Current Biology, followed the sleep of 50 subjects for eight weeks across clock changes. It found that though human circadian rhythms — which control sleep patterns — generally adapt to the “fall back” change, they struggle to adjust to the “spring ahead.”
Adhering to daylight saving time is a federal mandate, but states can opt out as long as they pass legislation and receive federal approval, according to the Transportation Department. In fact, several states and territories have chosen to be exempt from daylight saving time, opting instead to follow standard time year-round. Among them are Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands.
Other states, like Washington, have been in the fight to opt out of the time switch.
In May 2019, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that would #ditchtheswitch, putting the state on permanent daylight saving time. More than 30 states are considering similar legislation, according to the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago.
However, Washingtonians will still spring forward on Sunday with the rest of the country, as the state waits on Congress to approve the change, according to the Seattle Times.
Meanwhile, #ditchtheswitch has gained traction on social media, prompting both voices of support and backlash. It’s a debate that won’t be going away anytime soon, and unless you’re in an exempt area, expect to be groggy on Monday.
Daylight savings year-round could save lives, improve sleep and other benefits
In an effort to avoid the biannual clock switch in spring and fall, some well-intended critics of DST have made the mistake of suggesting that the abolition of DST — and a return to permanent standard time — would benefit society. In other words, the US would never “spring forward” or “fall back.”
Congress should seize on this momentum to move the entire country to year-round DST. In other words, turn all clocks forward permanently. If it did so, I see five ways that Americans’ lives would immediately improve.
- Lives would be saved – Simply put, darkness kills — and darkness in the evening is far deadlier than darkness in the morning. The evening rush hour is twice as fatal as the morning for various reasons: Far more people are on the road, more alcohol is in drivers’ bloodstreams, people are hurrying to get home and more children are enjoying outdoor, unsupervisedplay. Fatal vehicle-on-pedestrian crashes increase threefoldwhen the sun goes down. DST brings an extra hour of sunlight into the evening to mitigate those risks.
- Crime would decrease – Darkness is also a friend of crime. Moving sunlight into the evening hours has a far greater impact on the prevention of crime than it does in the morning.
- Energy would be saved – Many people don’t know that the original justification for the creation of DSTwas to save energy, initially during World War I and II and then later during the 1973 OPEC oil crisis. When the sun is out later in the evening, peak energy loads are reduced. Virtually everyone in our society is awake and using energy in the early evening hours when the sun sets. But a considerable portion of the population is still asleep at sunrise, resulting in significantly less demand for energy then.
- Recreation and commerce flourish in the sun – Finally, recreation and commerce flourish in daylight and are hampered by evening darkness. Americans areless willing to go out and shop in the dark, and it’s not very easy to catch a baseball in darkness either. These activities are far more prevalent in the early evening than they are in the early morning hours, so sunlight is not nearly as helpful then.
Research shows that sunlight is far more important to Americans’ health, efficiency and safety in the early evening than it is in the early morning. That’s not to say there aren’t downsides to DST — notably, an extra hour of morning darkness. But I believe the advantages of extended DST far outweigh those of standard time. It is past time that the U.S. sets the clocks forward forever, and never has to switch them again.