Daylight – But Not People – Saving Time

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Well, good morning all you sleepy heads. The government has decreed you’ve lost an hour of your life commencing at 2:00 a.m. this morning or was that 3:00 a.m.? Stretching back to the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin in his 1784 essay,  An Economical Project, the hoary practice has become the ritual of Spring and Fall as we all spring ahead or fall backward in the  marker of days we call “time.”

Daylight Saving Time (“DST”) was first enacted in to US law in 1918 as an energy-saving measure  designed to cut electrical demand from lights and appliances.  In Summer the argument goes, more people are away from their homes enjoying outdoor activities and thus less demand for electricity. A DOT study in 1975 seemed to confirm the rationale finding it saves about 1% per day from the nation’s energy diet. A 1976 report by the National Bureau of Standards disputed the DOT report citing more energy use during the Winter months.

 The first law provided the option for DST for localities, but during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt instituted year-round Daylight Saving Time, called “War Time,” from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act (“UTA”) to try to get a handle on the hodgepodge of state and local laws dealing with the time change. Any state could exempt itself, however by mere passage of a law declining to adopt the practice.

On the heels of the Arab Oil Embargo, President Richard Nixon signed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973 which mandated the time shifting. Congress variously amended the Act to permit a return to Standard Time and then back to Daylight Saving Time throughout the mid-70s.

A 1972 amendment to the UTA limited the right of states to exempt itself from DST. In 1986, a uniform stop and start date was enacted by Congress but some exemptions remained. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. beginning in 2007, though Congress retained the right to revert to the 1986 law should the change prove unpopular or if energy savings were not significant. About 70 nations utilize some form of DST.

What the government couldn’t have known when the DST was started was that our biological clocks don’t mesh so nicely with energy policy.  A study at Loyola University School of Medicine found that there are more workplace accidents and traffic collisions the day after we turn the clocks head. In addition, incidence of heart attacks in the US jump an astounding 10%. The worst repercussion may fall on those who are chronically sleep deprived. US estimates put the habitually sleepy at around 33% of the population.

So have that second cup of coffee this Sunday morning. You’ll need it.

Sources:  Yahoo; Web exhibits

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

23 thoughts on “Daylight – But Not People – Saving Time”

  1. Living farther up North, DST really is kind of nice…those middle of winter days when it would be 9:15 sunrise without falling back in the fall would be hell… At least I’m getting to the office with the sun rising.

    I hate the screwed up sleeping when we spring forward, but to be able to get that extra hour of light in the night time when it finally starts to warm up around here is NICE.

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