Op-Ed: Should We Save Daylight Savings?

By Mckenzie Golden | | Contributing Writer

That dreaded (or beloved) time of year is upon us once more: daylight savings. For those of us who call the Northeast home, this is a long anticipated time of year. For some of you, this may be the first time you are experiencing daylight savings because of its bizarre standard of practice throughout the country. It will be accompanied this year in Lancaster, Pennsylvania by pitch black conditions by five p.m., exhaustion about two hours earlier than usual, and excessive complaining from every single person you know. How did we get stuck with such a phenomenon? For that, you actually have one of the two founders of your institution to blame: Mr. Benjamin “Polymath” Franklin himself. 

Franklin first proposed daylight savings in the 1780s as a method to economize candle usage. He only suggested it in the form of waking up earlier in the summer, but other scientists over the centuries advocated for it as a way to have more hours of daylight (and thus more hours of working time). Daylight savings is not practiced on many continents, including Africa, most of South America, and most of Asia. For no reason in particular, daylight savings is not practiced in Hawaii or Arizona. Daylight savings is not practiced close to the Equator either — the length of day and night are too similar for it to make any difference.

There are dozens of scientific studies that support the abolition of daylight savings. A 2009 study found that people lose about 40 minutes of sleep when daylight savings time begins, which translates to about $434 million lost nationally. Multiple studies have found an increase in traffic accidents after the fall time change, and even a decrease in SAT scores by nearly two percent. A 2016 study found that judges even handed down sentences that were five percent longer when in proximity to a daylight savings switch. Perhaps most importantly, a 2008 study found conflicting results on energy use when daylight savings was implemented — sometimes it seemed like energy was being saved, while at other times energy use appeared to increase, contradicting one of the supposed largest benefits of daylight savings time in the first place.

Currently, a bill attempting to end daylight savings is making its way through Congress, co-sponsored by Marco Rubio and various Democrats and Republicans.  This bill was preceded by 33 other states’ attempts to end daylight savings in their state. Over the past five years, this sentiment has finally become reflected in national polling —  the percentage of people who wanted to stay strictly in one permanent standard time increased by 17%. 

So how will life change here? It will most likely be dark by the time you go for dinner and in a few weeks those with 8AMs can look forward to waking up in the pitch black as well. The days will feel shorter, you may feel less productive at night, and you’ll say at least twice a day “Where did the time go today?” It may be time to back your Senator on the removal of daylight savings time.  In the meantime, look forward to winter break!

First year Mckenzie Golden is a Contributing Writer.  Her email is mgolden@fandm.edu

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