History & Culture / Opinion

Daylight Savings Time (DST) – The Lunacy Continues

Most, though not all, Americans set their clocks forward on March 12th by one hour at 2 AM (or more likely before retiring to bed on Saturday night.) The “why” of all this “spring forward and fall back” is a question asked by more people every year, including state legislators and members of Congress. The practice is increasingly seen as utterly outdated, unnecessary, and even harmful. The pros and cons are many and are summarized here.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends DST be ended, noting it increases the risk of accidents and health complications while interrupting our natural circadian rhythm. The Academy cites research that traffic fatalities increased by six percent in the days following each year’s switch. The group recommends permanently keeping standard time. But the pro DST side consistently points to research showing that more light is good for all of us. Some studies even show DST causes a modest decrease in crime.

Where Did DST Come From?

The four most common responses to the origins of DST are these: it dates back to World War I, it saves energy, it gives farmers more daylight to work, and it’s healthier. In fact, it’s mostly a combination of responses one and two. The farm response has become a bit of an urban legend, and the healthier response appears to be downright wrong. 

Americans started conserving electricity during the First World War by pushing clocks ahead to better coordinate waking hours with light bulb use. As for saving energy, there are conflicting studies on whether DST accomplishes this. But most alarming is the spike in car accidents each year. This suggests the time change has a temporary but real deadly effect, as weary Americans head to work and school in the pitch black.

Some credit Ben Franklin with first suggesting DST in 1794 in his pamphlet, “An Economical Project.” His suggestion, though, was widely regarded as a joke to get Parisians to save money on candle wax by getting them out of bed earlier in the morning.

What’s Next?

Plans are afoot to scrap DST altogether in state legislatures and in Congress, but any state change would have to be approved by Congress. Last year, the Senate passed The Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, introduced by Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio. The bill would have made DST our normal time, effective in early November 2023. It was sent to the House in March, but it died in that chamber. Rubio has reintroduced the bill again (S.582), and GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida has introduced a companion House bill (H.R.1279). Utah GOP Rep. Chris Stewart has introduced H.R.364, which would allow states to observe DST year round. States currently can opt to observe standard time year round, and Arizona and Hawaii already do so. As of October 2022, at least 19 states have enacted legislation or resolutions to stay on DST permanently, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).   

Support for permanent DST is hardly a partisan issue. “Changing the clock twice a year is outdated and unnecessary,” said Rick Scott, Florida’s other GOP senator, after the 2022 Senate vote. Washington’s Democrat Sen. Patty Murray added, “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Americans want more sunshine and less depression — people in this country, all the way from Seattle to Miami, want the Sunshine Protection Act.”

Careful what you wish for

Americans appear to have short memories. President Richard Nixon actually signed an emergency daylight saving time bill into law in late 1973. The move was designed to combat a national energy crisis.  Extending daylight hours was supposed to cut electricity demand. Public opinion of year round DST was high leading up to that bill’s passage. The close to 80% approval rate in December 1973 would fall sharply in the months after, however. Parents grew anxious about traffic accidents and the safety of their children, who were made to head to school under winter darkness. By February, The New York Times pegged approval at just 42%. In October 1974 President Gerald Ford signed a bill that returned the U.S. to standard time for four months of the year, where the U.S. currently remains.

Where we go from here is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, remember to put your clock ahead on Saturday night March 11th before bed, or Sunday morning, unless of course you live in Arizona or Hawaii.

Jeff Szymanski works in political communications for AMAC Action. He previously taught high school social studies from 2002-2016.

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2 months ago

I really don’t care, just leave it one way or the other. I’ll adapt, over come and move on.

Rob citizenship
2 months ago

To Jeff Szymanski , This article you wrote on Daylight Savings Time is important, you did very well covering some of the history of the matter. I appreciate what you wrote. I think in terms of schedule change instead of daylight change. Time consideration is always important, for example in navigation accurate time measurement is essential.

Rob citizenship
2 months ago

To Jeff Szymanski, It is very good that you wrote this article about Daylight Savings Time . As far as the Lunacy continuing — the Lunacy should not continue. An intelligent approach to this time standards matter needs to be taken. I am always keeping in mind that there are people with views that are hostile to the United States of America who are reading what is being written and I believe it would be in the interest of defending this country from those with hostile views towards the U.S.A. if things such as this time standard controversy were dealt with on an intelligent level . One way to do that would be to establish some standard definitions of the subject matter. And having an open public forum on this topic so that the determination of what time standard will be used will be based on opinions of responsible, intelligent citizens who care about the issue and not based entirely on a member of Congress . It is possible that a member of Congress who is patriotic and intelligent and has the best interests of the country in mind will have a right fine idea for the time standard, and all the better if responsible, intelligent citizens have some influence in the matter too.

2 months ago

I agree with Peter’s comment.

2 months ago

The sun is straight overhead at 12:00 noon. That is PST, MST ,CST, EST. That is due to the natural rotation of the earth we reside on.

Unfortunately we have to have time zones in order to do business. It is true your light can be different as to east or west side of your zone , just as I live closer to a mountain so the sets earlier for us. Move to AZ you’ll experience longer hours of daylight in to the evening.

(Everyone , government, etc. likes to toss in the word “daylight” to confuse us. )

At the end of this “daylight saving time” turn clocks back to STANDARD TIME (November). STOP the nonsense!And the lies! There are the same number of hours of day LIGHT. Use it wisely.

We will adapt very quickly.

Rob citizenship
2 months ago
Reply to  PSTsue

Very good sense comment PSTsue , right to the point, clear thinking, is admirable and honorable. I have knowledge of celestial navigation, and the process involved in that ,and the spherical trigonometry it is based on is something that is easy to understand compared to some of the explanations I have heard regarding time standards (daylight savings time) I agree with you about stopping the nonsense and the lies , there is no time for either. In another comment I suggested having an open forum on this topic, that could be about a year ( comment in AMAC poll ) it could involve navigators, astronomers, geographers and members of Congress in the decision making positions , it could be a project that would be beneficial in developing an increase in knowledge of the whole foundation time measurement involves. Navigational astronomy is an important , interesting topic. You mentioned that some use the word daylight as a way to cause confusion with the DST matter. Those people who do that are wrong for doing that, nothing more to be said about that , except knowing their motive could be interesting. It is nice to think about the foundation of navigation and this time adjustment , —- 360 degrees divided by 24 hours equals 15 degrees of longitude per hour. In the spirit of using time wisely .

K. Martin
2 months ago

I don’t care which one is used, as long as it’s used consistently. It’s the change that wreaks havoc to me and others I know, especially for the week-to-10 days it takes to acclimate to it both physically and mentally.

Ralph S
2 months ago

DST or Standard time makes no difference. The REAL safety issue is ALWAYS make your home location East of where you WORK… that way the sun is at your back instead of glaring in your face.

Shauna Gunnink
2 months ago

Very few people realize that living on the east or west side of a time zone makes a tremendous difference. I get nearly an hour less sunlight in the evening living on the eastern edge of my zone, so DST is a much-anticipated blessing every year. I am very much in favor of year-round DST.
More evening sunlight allows me to be much more active, and therefore physically and mentally healthier.

Anne W
2 months ago

I dislike DST. Contrary to what many people say, it does not give us any more light. All it does is take away daylight in the morning and put it at the end of the day. Nature provides us all the light we’ll get. I’ve lived all over the States and some overseas and always hated DST. We lived in Arizona for many years, which remains on standard time year round. I loved not having to change our clocks and gradually getting more daylight in the morning so it was actually light on my drive to work. DST makes it more difficult to go to sleep at night. My vote is standard time all the way!

Deborah Wood
2 months ago
Reply to  Anne W

A million AMENs!

2 months ago

DST is stupid. END IT NOW!!!!!!!!!

Deborah Wood
2 months ago
Reply to  Jake

A million AMEN’s!

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
2 months ago

I”m so 3xcited. Kyle L.

2 months ago

I prefer Standard Time.
It has been around for a long time.
Being in construction I go to work earlier when the weather gets hotter.
Are people not smart enough to things unless a government entity tells them what to do???

2 months ago

The argument for going back to standard time is “kids will have to go to school in the dark”.
How about they start school and hour later in the winter rather than all of us going back to standard time!

2 months ago
Reply to  BobC

That doesn’t work for parents who work. They’ll end up paying for an extra hour of day care, which is very expensive.

Chicago Bill
2 months ago

“Daylight Saving Time” No ‘S’. Make it PERMANENT!! It gets dark at 4:30pm on the Solstice here in the Pacific Northwest. Absolutely no reason to change clocks in the 21st century. (after going to SDT one last time)

2 months ago

We voted to NOT have DST anymore…..why are we still having it.????

2 months ago

The only good DST serves is for the ‘flunkies politicians’ gives them more time to play their

GOLF, and stay out late,DO AWAY WITH DST

2 months ago

Jeff, it’s Daylight Saving (no s) Time. All year standard time would be best. Right now reverting to dark mornings just as we’re enjoying the earlier light is horrible and it’s getting light later as well. My AZ family loves Standard Time.

2 months ago

I have always hated DST. It messes up my sleep more than it already is! It’s not good for anyone. It really doesn’t save energy. It gets dark pretty late in the summer anyway so why mess with Mother Nature/God.

Deborah Wood
2 months ago
Reply to  Barbara

It is a horrible inconvenience for nothing! Standard time always!

2 months ago

If the start of it was a government idea, it has to be bad and stupid. Set time to DST and keep government hands off of it. Especially Loopy Joe or we’ll be setting our clocks behind 2 hours in January and ahead 3 hours in September.

2 months ago

For those who have morning outdoor activities DST is an obstatcle; such as, cattle, well pumps, unlit tank batteries, etc.

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