This Sunday morning at 2 a.m. clocks will be turned back one-hour. Daylight savings time ends. Has this become an obsolete change every spring? Most individuals and scientists believe that it is no longer necessary.
When and why did DST begin? The most common misconception is that the idea was to help farmers, giving them more daylight in the harvesting season. Farmers are actually opposed to the idea. It began during WWI. The purpose was to save heating oil used for artificial lighting and defer it to the war effort. When the ‘war to end all wars’ ended, some states continued the time change. However, it did not become a national issue again until WWII.
The purpose of DST today is to conserve energy. It doesn’t actually work because the financial cost may actually be greater, and more energy is consumed. DST allows consumers to turn artificial lights on later in the evening. However, because longer daylight time in the warmer months results in extended use of air conditioning, which is more costly, it may produce the opposite effect.
At present, Arizona and Hawaii do not adhere to DST. Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are considering eliminating the practice as well.
What DST does continue to accomplish is sleep deprivation. Continuous studies have proven that all too many Americans suffer from a lack of sufficient sleep. The obvious number one choice would be college students; study time and social time prevent them spending the eight or nine hours necessary to function at full efficiency. Changing the clocks forward one hour in the spring would not appear to greatly affect them, but it does. Everyone in the United States is affected by the time change. Reports each spring of feeling ‘groggy’ and being slightly disoriented are the result of DST.
Should this archaic practice cease? Most experts believe so.
A claim by proponents of DST claim that evening daylight is a safety issue. They allege there would be less traffic collisions. What they fail to consider is with less light in the morning drive, the possibility of increased accidents in the early hours of the day is heightened. A research study reported that early morning school bus accidents occur more frequently during DST.
Another study revealed an additional dangerous occurrence. The Monday after the clocks are moved forward reveal an eight percent increase in traffic accidents. They are attributed to a lack of sufficient sleep causing distractions.
The effects of sleep deprivation are not entirely experienced in a single day. Experts say that the effects can last as long as five days.
As you might expect, the opposite effect occurs in the fall when the clocks are moved back one hour. Claims of feeling more rested, less hurried, and a sense of being more alert are common.
The final and logical statement was made by ‘StandardTime.com.’ The organization says that if proof of energy conservation is accurate, we should be on DST for the entire year. If there is no proof, then why does it exist?
The debate will continue; for now, don’t forget to set your clocks tonight; ‘fall back.’
By James Turnage