Spring didn’t officially arrive in Wyoming until Sunday, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it began March 13 — when we and the rest of the country (or most of it, at least) …
Spring didn’t officially arrive in Wyoming until Sunday, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it began March 13 — when we and the rest of the country (or most of it, at least) switched from standard to daylight saving time.
After getting past the grogginess and inconvenience associated with having to push our clocks and schedules forward an hour, there’s a certain joy that comes with getting that extra hour of daylight shifted to the evenings.
Still, it’s hard to get past the hassle of changing our clocks back and forth. In fact, in a day and age when it seems like Americans can’t agree on anything, there’s nearly universal disdain for the time changes.
Two years ago, the Wyoming Legislature passed a bill from Rep. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, that would put the Cowboy State on permanent daylight saving time. However, that change will only happen if at least four neighboring states agree to do the same thing — and if Congress OKs the move.
Now, there’s a chance the whole country will make the switch, as Congress is considering legislation that would put the entire country on permanent daylight saving time. The measure passed the U.S. Senate unanimously, though, according to BuzzFeed News, that was only because some senators didn’t realize the bill was being considered.
Whether the bill will clear the House remains to be seen; Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., told the Washington Post last week that the House may not take up the bill for months.
Pallone, who chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, is an advocate for ending the twice-a-year time changes. In a recent statement he noted that, in the days following the falling back and springing forward, heart attacks, strokes and workplace accidents increase, productivity drops and children lose important sleep.
“I believe that any justifications for springing forward and falling back are either outdated or are outweighed by the serious health and economic impacts we now know are associated with the time changes,” Pallone said.
He also pointed to a 2019 poll that showed more than 70% of Americans want to stop changing their clocks. Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. While everyone hates the time changes, public opinion remains split on which time is better. Many people like having plenty of sunlight left when they get off work (hence the existence of daylight saving time from March through November). However, many people also want it to be light when they leave for work or school (hence why standard time is used during the winter months, when the sun wouldn’t rise until nearly 8:30 a.m. in December).
The current set-up is a compromise that reflects the competing views. Consider the testimony presented to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce earlier this month.
University of Washington law professor Steve Calandrillo told the panel that daylight saving time should be made permanent, because it “saves lives and energy, and prevents crime.” Driving in darkness is statistically more dangerous, and Calandrillo pointed to data showing that “darkness in the evening is far deadlier than darkness in the morning.” He noted there are more drivers on the road, more drivers drinking and more children outside in the evenings. Calandrillo referenced a 2004 study that found a switch to daylight saving time would save the lives of 365 pedestrians and motor vehicle occupants every year.
Additionally, Lyle Beckwith of the National Association of Convenience Stores said data suggests people shop more during “daylight optimization time.” Within the convenience industry, Beckwith said about $5 billion worth of incremental sales a year can be attributable to the extra hour of evening daylight.
“The current system of daylight saving is good for business, energy efficiency, and the prevention of vehicle accidents,” Beckwith told House committee members. “Preserving or extending these benefits are the only policy choices that make sense from our perspective.”
However, while agreeing that the United States should stop the unhealthy practice of changing its clocks, Dr. Beth Malow of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center contended it would be better to stick with permanent standard time. She compared daylight saving time to “living in the wrong time zone for almost eight months out of the year.”
“Standard Time is the healthy choice because it maximizes light in the winter mornings, when we need it to wake up and become alert, and minimizes light in the summer evenings, when it can work against our sleep,” Malow testified.
She also noted that a switch to permanent daylight saving time in the 1970s proved unpopular.
Rep. Pallone encapsulated the current dilemma in his opening remarks, saying that he hasn’t decided which time he wants the U.S. to stick with.
We’ve been on record saying that we prefer the extra evening sunshine offered by daylight saving time. We could make that case again, but here’s the bottom line: If Americans aren’t OK with either going to work and school in the dark (under permanent daylight saving time) or losing an hour of evening light in the summers (under permanent standard time), we probably need to stop complaining and simply deal with the challenges of springing forward and falling back.