This year, daylight savings time began on March 16th at 2:00 AM and ended on Sunday, November 6th. In November, Americans gained back an extra hour of sleep. How did this tradition start?
Well, the end of daylight savings marks the start of a new season: winter. Its purpose is to make time for summer daylight and to account for shorter days in the winter. During the winter solstice, December 21st , the sun sets at 4:35 PM whereas during the summer solstice, June 20th, the sun sets at 8:32 PM.
William Willett founded the idea as British Summer Time for the United Kingdom in 1907, but the United States did not adopt it until 1918. Daylight savings’ history in the US has been rather odd; the US abolished it during World War I, but then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt reintroduced it during World War II.
The oddities continued with parts of states dropping the changing time, until, in 1966, the Uniform Time Act proclaimed that states must participate fully or not all. Today, states like Hawaii and Arizona, and territories like Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, do not participate in it at all –Utah is even considering ending its participation.
Why is daylights savings so bad? Well, there are a couple reasons. One, daylight savings is not even that important as the US has abolished it before in between the World Wars.
Secondly, abolishing it across the United States could only bring benefits. The summer solstice would be at 7:32 PM in New Jersey and the winter solstice at 5:35 PM. This would create longer winter days.
Although some may argue in favor of long summer nights, there are economic repercussions and safety concerns with keeping daylights savings. Each year, the annual spring switchover costs the United States economy nearly 434 million dollars (Chmura Economics and Analytics). This is because Americans are less likely to travel or drive once it gets darker outside.
Additionally, in the week before November 6th, there are 65 pedestrian deaths from drivers and in the week after, it skyrockets to 227 deaths (University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute). A full year of daylight savings would save 171 pedestrian lives a year and allow for more economic productivity (Rutgers and Emory Universities studies).
The only real benefit that seems to arise from daylights savings is ensuring that your clocks are working and can change time. Otherwise, it seems like an ancient and useless practice.
After all, more sunlight when it is colder outside would not be such a bad thing and, excluding the macroeconomic benefits, it just does not make sense. The other 48 states should follow in the steps of the last 2 to join the United States and get rid of daylights savings once and for all.