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HomeHealthReasons behind the US's Decision to Maintain Daylight Saving Time

Reasons behind the US’s Decision to Maintain Daylight Saving Time

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CNN – It’s nearly time for clocks to “fall back” one hour. On the second Sunday of March, at 2 a.m., clocks in the majority of the United States and many other countries move forward one hour and remain that way for nearly eight months in a practice known as Daylight Saving Time. On the first Sunday of November, at 2 a.m., clocks are set back one hour to standard time. The current system in the US, from March to November, began in 2007, but the concept of “saving daylight” is much older. Daylight Saving Time originated from train schedules but was later implemented in Europe and the United States during World War I to conserve fuel and power, according to the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Pro tip: It’s Daylight Saving Time, using the singular form of “saving,” not “savings.” The US maintained permanent Daylight Saving Time for most of World War II, aiming to save fuel and maintain consistency. As the war concluded in 1945, Gallup surveyed individuals on their preferred timekeeping method. Only 17% supported the year-round use of what was then known as “war time.” During the energy crisis of the 1970s, the US experimented with permanent Daylight Saving Time again during the winter of 1973-1974, with the goal of conserving fuel. At the time, this decision was well-received and signed into law by President Richard Nixon in January 1974. However, after eight schoolchildren were hit by cars in the dark, Florida’s governor called for the law’s repeal by the end of the month. Schools throughout the country postponed their start times until sunrise. By the summer, public approval had plummeted, and Congress voted in early October to return to standard time.

In the US, states are not obligated by law to observe “fall back” or “spring forward.” Hawaii, most of Arizona, and certain territories in the Pacific and Caribbean do not participate in Daylight Saving Time. The biannual time change has caused frustration among lawmakers from all political backgrounds, prompting the US Senate to pass legislation in March 2022 that seeks to establish permanent Daylight Saving Time. The bill received unanimous consent but must pass in the House of Representatives and be signed by President Joe Biden in order to become law. However, House lawmakers did not vote on the bill in 2022. Nevertheless, on March 2, a bipartisan group of twelve senators reintroduced the legislation to end clock switching in favor of permanent Daylight Saving Time. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Florida, introduced companion legislation, known as the Sunshine Protection Act, in the House.

Numerous studies conducted over the past 25 years have highlighted how the one-hour time change disrupts natural body rhythms tied to the Earth’s rotation, adding to the ongoing debate on whether Daylight Saving Time, in any form, is beneficial. The issue is complex, as there are studies suggesting an increase in car accidents when people lose an extra hour of sleep, while others indicate a decrease in robberies when there is an additional hour of sunlight in the evening. It is also observed that incidents of heart attacks tend to rise at the start of Daylight Saving Time. However, people generally appear to be happier with an extra hour of daylight. The energy-saving argument often used to support Daylight Saving Time doesn’t hold up, as the actual energy saved is minimal, if anything at all. Instead, the push for Daylight Saving Time predominantly comes from various sectors of the economy. In the mid-20th century, recreational sports industry lobby groups sought to attract more customers after work hours by having more daylight in the evening. Conversely, the movie industry opposed Daylight Saving Time as it decreases the likelihood of moviegoers during daylight hours. Contrary to popular belief, farmers also expressed discontent as it complicated getting their produce to the market in the morning.

In conclusion, whether the extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day or the beginning is advantageous remains uncertain. It largely depends on individual preferences and needs. It seems that Daylight Saving Time will continue in the US for the foreseeable future.

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