Today is the first Monday of Daylight Savings Time which sprang most of the United States forward one hour early Sunday morning. It makes for one of the toughest Monday morning wake-ups of the year and as it realigns our location to the sun and the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England.
This Monday morning also happens to be the second to last Monday morning of my work life before I leave MegaCorp for early retirement, and it has me reflecting on Daylight Savings Time overall. I have long been an advocate of the semi-annual switching of the clocks. We live in Minnesota where the sun sets as soon as 4:34pm on a December afternoon, before swinging all the way to 9:30pm in June.
I much prefer to have the sun go down later, especially when I don’t have to get up for work when it is dark. I was interested to understand the story behind Daylight Savings Time and was quite surprised at what I learned:
- BEN PRANKS FRENCH – Many people attribute the idea of Daylight Savings Time (DST) to Benjamin Franklin. He did write about the idea of changing clocks to save hours spent burning candles in a 1784 essay called “An Economical Project” – however, it seems it was written as a practical joke or piece of satire aimed at the French.
- OUR TIME – The USA adopted DST during WWI in 1916 to save fuel. Although it only lasted one year, this year is its 100th anniversary of sorts. The official adoption of DST occurred in 1966 when Congress passed the Uniform Time Act (50 years ago – also an anniversary).
- WHERE ARE YOU? – Not all states follow DST. Arizona, Hawaii, and parts of Indiana (close to Chicago) do not follow the change. Mr. Fire Station had a coworker 20 years ago who showed up 1 hour late for a meeting and had to be told the time changed. “Change the time? You can’t change the TIME” she insisted. She was from Indiana.
- DON’T BLAME FARMERS – Most everyone believes that the farmers asked for Daylight Savings Time. Turns out, that’s not the case at all. Farmers were the ONLY group to organize a lobby against DST. According to a book by Michael Downing from Tufts University, they said their livestock didn’t adjust well to the time change.
- YOUR HEALTH – It turns out humans don’t adjust the the time change any better than a farmer’s cows. Two studies say the time shift leads to an increased risk of heart attacks (as high as 10%). The U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration also found a very small, but significant, increase of road deaths on the Monday after the clock shift in the spring. Traffic accidents are said to rise by about 6 percent nationally for six days after the spring forward in time.
- WORK PRODUCTIVITY – A study by professors at the Universities of Oregon & Washington shows that the shift to Daylight Savings Time leads to a loss of work productivity. The loss has been estimates as high as $434 million annually to our economy. It is said that it takes several weeks to adjust to the time change each spring & fall.
- POWER UP – Turning the clock forward is also supposed to have a positive impact on energy efficiency. Unfortunately, the California Energy Commission in 2007 uncovered only a paltry 0.2% savings, which they acknowledged was too small to be significant in their analysis. In Indiana, a study showed that DST caused more energy to be used.
- MONEY MONEY MONEY – Maybe in the end the only reason for Daylight Savings Time is probably more about making cash registers ring than anything else. It turns out that since 1915, the one group to consistently support the time shift is the US Chamber of Commerce. On behalf of small business & retailers the “Chamber understands that if you give workers more sunlight at the end of the day, they’ll stop and shop on their way home.” An association for the convenience store industry says they benefited from an additional $1B in sales a year since the dates for DST were changed in 1996.
According to a Rasmussen Report survey, most Americans do not like Daylight Savings time or think it is worth the bother to change the clocks twice a year. Just 33% of people think the clock changing ritual is worth it. That makes our household an outlier. Mr. & Mrs. Fire Station definitely like Daylight Savings Time and could take it the full year around – especially since I won’t be getting up early for work anymore
How do you feel about Daylight Davings Time? Love it? Hate it? Don’t mind either way?
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