President’s Corner – March 2019 – Daylight Saving Time

So, do you say “Daylight Savings Time” or “Daylight Saving Time”? I would be willing to bet that most of us say “Savings”. Am I right? Well, the correct term is actually “Daylight Saving Time” so we should probably work on that (among all of the other things we need to work on!).

The history of “springing forward” and “falling back” with the seasons is a rich and interesting one. The idea was originally advocated by William Willett, a British businessman in the early 1900’s. Although many mistakenly attribute the idea to Benjamin Franklin, he merely proposed a change in sleeping schedules to maximize daylight through “the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.” He wanted us to change our sleeping habits, not time itself. Mr. Willett, however, published a brochure called “The Waste of Daylight” and spent a great deal of time and money trying to lobby the public and the parliament to consider his ideas in order to encourage more people to enjoy the sunlight. During WWI, Germany was the first country to enact daylight saving time (DST) in 1916 and Britain followed a few weeks later.

Here in the United States, we have a confusing and unorganized history of enacting DST. The United States first implemented DST in 1918 as a wartime measure, but then repealed DST in 1919. However, many cities and states liked DST and continued to change their clocks back/forward despite the rest of the county eliminating DST. Then, during WWII, national DST was enacted once again and repealed again after the war, yet a handful of local cities and states again continued to recognize DST. Pretty confusing, huh? Then, in 1966, the Uniform Time Act, which standardized DST, was enacted and almost everyone embraced the standardization. However, even now, we have 2 states and several territories that do not participate in DST and Florida may be the next one to opt out.

Also, most Americans believe that DST has something to do with our agricultural industry and having more time to work in the fields. However, farmers actually opposed the switching of time because their activities are determined by the sun, not the clock, and the time change actually disrupted their operations. The farmers led the fight against DST, which is why it was repealed twice after both wars. However, urban areas, retail outlets and recreational businesses continued to lobby for DST until the Uniform Time Act was adopted in 1966.

A 1975 survey in the United States by the Department of Transportation showed the Daylight Saving Time (DST) trimmed the country’s electricity usage by about 1% per day. By moving the clocks ahead one hour the average home saw a decrease in electricity consumption for lighting, which saved the average consumer on their electric bill. However, with the widespread use of air conditioning in recent years and sunlight remaining longer during the summer, the savings on electricity for lighting has now been offset with an even greater cooling expense.

And, while DST has been shown to have benefits such as energy savings for lighting, a decrease in vehicle accidents in the evenings, and a potential economic benefit of extra daylight hours encouraging people to stay out longer and spend more money at shops, it has also been shown to have a negative impact on people’s well-being. Losing an hour of sleep when we “spring forward” has been shown to throw off our biological clock and we are just less focused for a few days after. The US National and Highway Transportation Safety Administration has found an increase in road deaths on the Monday after the clock changes in the spring and there is evidence that there are more workplace injuries and heart attacks as well. Also, the adjustment of individuals’ sleep schedules can range from a mere nuisance to a serious concern for people with sleep disorders or conditions requiring consistent sleep schedules. There has also been evidence that the change in time decreases work productivity and can severely affect tourism-focused cities where having the extra hour of daylight in the evening is beneficial to visitors and tourists.

Last year the Florida Legislature passed a law moving Florida permanently to Daylight Saving time. The Sunshine Protection Act passed with overwhelming support and would have allowed Florida to remain in Daylight Saving Time year round with the hopes of boosting the tourism industry and a reduction in car crashes by providing an additional hour of daylight in the evenings. Unfortunately for Florida, the bill did not get approved by Congress by mid-December and therefore the bill “died”. Florida lawmakers hope to re-file the bill in Congress once again in hopes of pushing Florida, and eventually the nation, into permanent Daylight Saving Time.

For now, however, on March 10th, we once again spring forward.

So, until next time, please remember….“We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later.” (Winston Churchill)

Eva M. Rey, President
Central Viera Community Association, Inc.