Monday, April 15, 2024

Why the US chose to have Daylight Saving Time

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It’s almost that time when the clocks move ahead one hour, and we lose an hour of sleep.

On the second Sunday of March, at 2 a.m., clocks in most of the United States and many other countries jump forward one hour. This lasts for almost eight months during what’s called Daylight Saving Time. Then, on the first Sunday of November, at 2 a.m., clocks go back one hour to standard time.

Quick tip: It’s “Daylight Saving Time,” not “Savings.”

Reasons for Daylight Saving Time
Remember to set your alarm clock!

During most of World War II, the US had Daylight Saving Time all the time to save fuel and keep things consistent. After the war in 1945, only 17% of people wanted to keep this “war time” all year.

In the energy crisis of the 1970s, we tried permanent Daylight Saving Time in the winter of 1973-1974 to save fuel. President Richard Nixon signed the law, but it became unpopular after eight schoolchildren were hit by cars in the dark. Schools delayed start times until the sun came up.

By summer, public approval dropped, and in October, Congress voted to go back to standard time.

In the US, states aren’t required to “fall back” or “spring forward.” Hawaii, most of Arizona, and some territories don’t observe Daylight Saving Time. In March 2022, the US Senate passed a law to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. The bill passed without opposition.

House lawmakers didn’t vote on it in 2022. On March 2, 2023, a bipartisan group reintroduced the legislation to end clock switching for permanent Daylight Saving Time.

Why do we need Daylight Saving Time?
Studies in the last 25 years show the one-hour change messes with our body rhythms tuned to Earth’s rotation. This fuels the debate over whether any form of Daylight Saving Time is a good idea.

Arguments and counterarguments exist. Some studies say more car accidents happen when people lose an hour of sleep. Others show fewer robberies when there’s an extra hour of sunlight. People also have more heart attacks at the start of Daylight Saving Time. But what about our mental health? People seem happier with an extra hour of daylight.

Then there’s the economy, which pays for outdoor fun in the sun. Although energy saving was a reason for Daylight Saving Time, the actual savings aren’t much.

The movie industry didn’t like it, as people are less likely to go to a movie when it’s bright outside. Farmers didn’t like it either, as it made it hard to get their food to the market in the morning.

In conclusion, it’s not clear if having that extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day versus the beginning is helpful. It depends on who you are and what you want. And it seems like Daylight Saving Time in the US isn’t going away soon.

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