What’s the Deal with DST?
By Lani Gering
It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were “Falling Back” and the world turned dark there for a few months. Now that March has arrived, we can see the light at the end of the day when we “Spring Forward” on the 12th.
Every U.S. state observes daylight saving time (DST), with the exceptions of Arizona (although some Native American tribes do observe DST in their territories) and Hawaii. Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, do not observe daylight saving time even though they are U.S. territories. This may change this year even though legislation over whether to make daylight saving time permanent is still hung up in Congress.
As I was looking to the “interwebs” for some updated information on where the legislation stands, I ran across some pretty cool background relative to the creation of DST. The information below was garnered from a piece I found on the NBC Channel 5 in Chicago’s website:
What is daylight saving time?
Daylight saving time is a changing of the clocks that typically begins in spring and ends in fall in what is often referred to as “spring forward” and “fall back.”
Under the conditions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, daylight saving time starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.
On those days, clocks either shift forward or backward one hour. But it wasn’t always that way.
Clocks used to spring ahead on the first Sunday in April and remained that way until the final Sunday in October, but a change was put in place in part to allow children to trick-or-treat in more daylight.
In the United States, daylight saving time lasts for a total of 34 weeks, running from early-to-mid March to the beginning of November in states that observe it.
Some people like to credit Benjamin Franklin as the inventor of daylight saving time when he wrote in a 1784 essay about saving candles and saying, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” But that was meant more as satire than a serious consideration.
Germany was the first to adopt daylight saving time on May 1, 1916, during World War I as a way to conserve fuel. The rest of Europe followed soon after.
The United States didn’t adopt daylight saving time until March 19, 1918. It was unpopular and abolished after World War I.
On Feb. 9, 1942, Franklin Roosevelt instituted a year-round daylight saving time, which he called “war time.” This lasted until Sept. 30, 1945.
Daylight saving time didn’t become standard in the US until the passage of the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which mandated standard time across the country within established time zones. It stated that clocks would advance one hour at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in April and turn back one hour at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in October.
States could still exempt themselves from daylight saving time, as long as the entire state did so. In the 1970s, due to the 1973 oil embargo, Congress enacted a trial period of year-round daylight saving time from January 1974 to April 1975 in order to conserve energy.
Under legislation unanimously passed by the Senate earlier this year, known as the Sunshine Protection Act, the seasonal changing of clocks would effectively be eliminated in the U.S., except for Hawaii and parts of Arizona and go into effect this November.
Overall, thoughts on the potential shift vary.
The Sunshine Protection Act was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who suggested it would reduce crime, encourage kids to play outside and lower the risk of heart attacks and car accidents.
According to the Department of Transportation, daylight saving time has a number of benefits. The DOT’s website highlights the following:
It saves energy. During Daylight Saving Time, the sun sets one hour later in the evenings, so the need to use electricity for household lighting and appliances is reduced. People tend to spend more time outside in the evenings during Daylight Saving Time, which reduces the need to use electricity in the home. Also, because the sunrise is very early in the morning during the summer months, most people will awake after the sun has already risen, which means they turn on fewer lights in their homes.
It saves lives and prevents traffic injuries. During Daylight Saving Time, more people travel to and from school and work and complete errands during the daylight.
It reduces crime. During Daylight Saving Time, more people are out conducting their affairs during the daylight rather than at night, when more crime occurs.
We are curious to know how our readers feel about making DST permanent come November. If you have an interest in chiming (you see what I did with that grandfather clock reference) in, send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org with DST in the subject line.