More daylight is welcome as the cold and dark of winter give way to spring. Forcing clock changes twice a year often isn’t. Having made the switch to daylight saving time last weekend, states should be allowed to stay there.
Springing forward meant a lost hour of sleep when clocks that read 1:59:59 a.m. on Sunday, March 14, officially jumped to 3:00:00 a.m. It means grogginess from less sleep, especially for night owls, until internal clocks adjust. The reverse shift will occur in October.
However, people never make up for that sleep loss, according to Dr. Nate Watson of the University of Washington Sleep Center.
The switch itself might be a killer. In 2007, Carnegie Mellon University researchers discovered an increased likelihood of pedestrians being hit by cars and killed in the days following the time switch in the fall. In 2001, a University of Michigan researcher came up with similar findings.
Energy conservation has been a rationale for daylight saving time, but it’s iffy. A 2008 study sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that after Indiana went to daylight time in 2005, residential demand for electricity increased by 1% and increased residents’ electric bills by $9 million per year.
Modern life requires national time standards. Time zones were established in 1883. The idea of longer summer days goes back to Ben Franklin. Daylight time as energy conservation took hold during World War I, but the reception by the public has always been mixed.
Allowing local control of time changes created chaos for decades. In the 1950s and 1960s, anyone traveling a 35-mile stretch of Route 2 between Moundsville, W.Va., and Steubenville, Ohio, had to endure seven time-changes. The discovery of that mess caused the federal government to finally mandate that state legislatures decide whether to stay on standard time.
Hawaii and most of Arizona are the only states that do not observe daylight saving time today.
Arguments about daylight versus standard time, about whether it is dark too long in the morning or too soon in the evening, depend largely on where in a time zone the debate is taking place. Time on a manmade clock is only loosely related to the sun.
The real annoyance in our current system is the need to change those clocks, and our internal clocks, twice a year. Fifteen states have voted to make daylight saving time permanent. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has introduced the necessary changes to federal law.
Congress should make the change so that come November, we don’t have to fall back.
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