Bad habits like fiddling with our clocks twice a year are hard to break, even when they serve no good purpose, even if destructive. But there is hope we will be spared the burden of turning our clocks back from daylight saving time (DST) next month if legislation sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott is approved.
We’ve had enough to deal with this year, the senators say, in pushing for a bill to skip the upcoming time change and keep the country on daylight saving time through November 2021. And if that is successful, we may well be done with this useless ritual, with 32 states now having voted to keep the clocks an hour ahead permanently.
When will Congress get a clue and get it done?
Most folks will tell you DST was created for the benefit of farmers when America was largely agricultural. Most folks would be wrong. Farmers don’t give a hoot about DST and in fact strongly opposed it when the time switch was first made in March 1918 as a wartime measure.
After the war ended, DST proved so unpopular the federal law was repealed in 1919, though some states and localities continued the observance.
When World War II arrived, so did year-round DST. But from 1945 to 1966, observance was inconsistent, resulting in all manner of confusion for the transportation and broadcasting industries in particular, which pushed for standardization. Farmers, by the way, remained opposed. To fix things, the Uniform Time Act was established in 1966.
After 55 years of this misery, it’s time to repeal it, move time forward an hour, and be done with it. There simply is no good reason to continue changing our clocks twice annually.
The U.S. Department of Energy is promulgating the notion that DST saves about a half a percent in total electricity per day. However, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the closer you live to the equator where the amount of daylight varies little, the amount of electricity actually increases after the clocks are switched. A Yale economics study found a 1% increase in electricity use in Indiana from DST costs residents $9 million annually.
“Further studies in 2008 showed that Americans used more domestic electricity when they practice daylight saving. Today, as modern society marches forward, the energy argument may become obsolete. In terms of work, we’re not really a strictly 9 to 5 society any more. Factories have different shifts. Office workers use the internet. Farmers will use daylight hours, no matter what. At home, our electricity demand is no longer based on sunrises and sunsets. We drive instead of walking, which means daylight saving actually increases gasoline use,” says the OFA.
Indeed, other studies show a negative impact on health, more car crashes and increased workplace injuries as folks get accustomed to time switches.
Two years ago, California and Florida voted to move clocks ahead an hour and leave them there. Last year, six more states signed on including Tennessee. So far this year there have been six more. More than half the states now demand an end to clock tampering. Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands don’t change their clocks. Next month, neither will California, Washington and Oregon.
Congress should take this year off and leave the time set ahead. Next year, it should make it permanent.