Do we still need Daylight Saving Time?
Two days after President Donald Trump tweeted support for making Daylight Saving Time permanent, a trio of North Carolina Republican lawmakers have suggested doing that here.
A bill filed Wednesday in the General Assembly, HB 350, would make Daylight Saving Time permanent in North Carolina, if the U.S. Congress agrees. That would mean no more having to remember if the clocks are supposed to go forward or backward those couple of times per year, or missing important appointments because you forgot about the time change. It could also literally save lives, some scientific research suggests.
Republican Rep. Jason Saine of Lincolnton, one of the bill’s sponsors, said Trump has the right idea on this but that his tweet did not influence the North Carolina bill. This has actually been in the works for about two years, Saine said, and could at some point become part of a regional push to make Daylight Saving Time permanent in much of the Southeast.
“I have friends in South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia who serve in their respective legislatures and were discussing moving similar legislation,” Saine said.
They would join Florida, which last year passed a similar bill but has so far not gotten Congress to approve it for permanent Daylight Saving Time. According to the Tampa Bay Times, it faces opposition from a number of lobbying groups.
But Saine said he hopes the idea goes forward. Time changes are “antiquated” and change “is long overdue,” he said.
According to National Geographic Magazine, the entire West Coast — California, Oregon and Washington — is also looking into making Daylight Saving Time permanent. Meanwhile, National Geographic reported, much of New England as well as Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas want to permanently switch to standard time, which would also mean no more clocks springing forward or falling back in those states.
In addition to Saine the bill’s sponsors are Republican Reps. Kelly Hastings of Cherryville and John Szoka of Fayetteville. But it’s not a purely partisan idea, as they have at least one Democratic co-sponsor in Asheville Rep. Brian Turner.
While the idea to ditch time changes appears to be gaining steam, it’s not entirely new. Arizona and Hawaii haven’t participated in Daylight Saving Time since the 1960s, nor do some U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, according to Time Magazine.
Health and energy issues
Last Sunday most people lost an hour of sleep, and night-shift workers lost an hour of pay, as the clocks sprang forward an hour.
Although it may seem minor, scientific research has shown that this one switch can actually lead to real-life tragedy.
One research paper published in 2016 found that the number of car wrecks in the U.S. increases by 5.6 percent in the week (which is this week) after the clocks spring forward. Because of that, the paper said, the time change “is responsible for over 30 deaths annually” from sleepy drivers getting into wrecks.
Another research paper, published in 2009, found that on the Monday directly after the clocks spring forward an hour, “workers sustain more workplace injuries and injuries of greater severity.”
Daylight Saving Time was first introduced during World War I, as a way to save energy costs during the war, although more recent studies have cast some doubt on whether it actually works, according to a 2009 article in Scientific American. It found some studies that pointed to decreased energy use but other studies that pointed to increased energy use.