Most people function on a daytime schedule from a young age. Typically, people get up in the morning, eat, go to school or work, and go to bed at night. Some people go to bed when it’s getting dark in the summer. For most people, it’s already dark at bedtime during the winter.
The United States uses Daylight Savings Time (DST) to capitalize on daylight during the winter months. Many people want the fall time change canceled so that DST will be permanent. While the DST laws haven’t changed to allow that, there are many reasons to argue for the change. Let’s examine why nations observe DST and why eliminating a fall time change could be a good idea.
What is Daylight Savings Time?
Daylight Savings refers to the act of moving clocks forward or backward, effectively changing when the sun rises in the morning and when it gets dark at night. In the Northern Hemisphere, countries where some or all regions observe DST include the U.S., Canada, Greenland, Honduras, and Mexico. The U.K. and the European Union also observe DST. The times when clocks change vary based on the nation or region.
There are multiple reasons to end the fall time change.
You might assume people are better rested after DST ends in the fall because people get an additional hour of sleep, but time changes wreak havoc on people’s schedules. While it’s impossible to compare accident statistics before and after time changes in states with no daylight savings, studies in states that observe DST illustrate that pedestrian accidents increase after clocks change in the fall and the number of fatal accidents rises. Over five years, New Hampshire, Florida, Idaho, and Nebraska recorded some of the most significant increases in fatal accidents after clocks turned back in the fall.
Traffic accidents aren’t the only reason to consider permanent daylight savings time. Light can have a significant impact on people’s schedules and moods. Changing the clocks has a significant impact on individuals with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and it’s common for professionals who treat people with SAD to see a spike in symptoms after the clocks change in the fall. SAD sufferers could benefit from reduced symptoms with year-round DST.
Why do nations observe DST?
The United States first observed DST in 1918, but it was repealed within months. DST returned in World War II, although President Roosevelt called it “War Time.” The nation stopped observing War Time after World War II ended, but DST returned in 1966 with the Uniform Time Act. DST originally started in April and ended in November.
For the United States and Canada, DST currently begins in March. Clocks “spring forward” on the second Sunday of the month. This means it’s lighter later in the evening, enabling people to enjoy daylight after school or work instead of arriving home in the dark. DST ends in November when the clocks “fall back” on the first Sunday of the month. When this occurs, it gets light earlier in the morning, but it gets darker earlier at night.
While DST applies to most U.S. states, there are some exceptions. Hawaii and Arizona don’t observe DST. Hawaii’s proximity to the equator ensures the state enjoys consistent day lengths year-round, which is why Hawaii opted out of DST in 1967. Most of Arizona opted out of DST in 1968 because the state enjoys plenty of sunlight without the time changes, although the Navajo Nation does observe DST. These states observe standard time year-round because year-round daylight savings time is prohibited. The Uniform Time Act prevents any region from having DST year-round.
DST refers to changing the time to capitalize on daylight hours. Setting clocks back in the fall is linked to increases in fatal car accidents and depressive episodes.