Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fall back, my a$$

Yeah, I'm not a big fan of Standard Time. I'll get to that, though. First, a little background on this whole Daylight Savings Time enigma:

First conceived by Benjamin Franklin, Daylight Savings Time was seriously advocated and lobbied for by London builder William Willett (1857-1915) who said, "Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used."

Daylight Saving Time has been used in the U.S. and in many European countries since World War I. At that time, in an effort to conserve fuel needed to produce electric power, Germany and Austria began saving daylight on April 30, 1916. Many other countries followed suit, and today, approximately 70 countries utilize Daylight Saving Time in at least a portion of the country.

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 created Daylight Saving Time to begin on the last Sunday of April and to end on the last Sunday of October. Any state that wanted to be exempt from Daylight Saving Time could do so by passing a state law.

Under legislation enacted in 1986, Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. began at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and ended at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of October.

Various interesting little tidbits on the effects of the time change:

Halloween. Through 2006, Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. ended a few days before Halloween (October 31). Children’s pedestrian deaths are four times higher on Halloween than on any other night of the year. A new law to extend DST to the first Sunday in November took effect in 2007, with the purpose of providing trick-or-treaters more light and therefore more safety from traffic accidents. However, it appears most trick-or-treaters wait until dark to venture out, so this had little effect. In addition, it cost U.S. companies billions to reset automated equipment, put us further out of sync with Asia and Africa time-wise, and generally inconvenienced most of the country.

Drinking. Patrons of bars that stay open past 2:00 a.m. lose one hour of drinking time on the day when Daylight Saving Time springs forward one hour. This has led to annual problems in numerous locations, and sometimes even to riots. For example, at a "time disturbance" in Athens, Ohio, site of Ohio University, over 1,000 students and other late night partiers chanted "Freedom," as they threw liquor bottles at the police attempting to control the riot.

Trains. To keep to their published timetables, Amtrak trains cannot leave a station before the scheduled time. So, when the clocks fall back one hour in October, all Amtrak trains in the U.S. that are running on time stop at 2:00 a.m. and wait one hour before resuming. Overnight passengers are often surprised to find their train at a dead stop and their travel time an hour longer than expected. At the spring Daylight Saving Time change, trains instantaneously become an hour behind schedule at 2:00 a.m., but they just keep going and do their best to make up the time.

Crime. A study by the U.S. Law Enforcement Assistance Administration found that crime was down 10 to 13 percent during periods of Daylight Saving Time than during comparable standard time periods. It is clear that for most crimes where darkness is a factor, such as muggings, there are many more incidents after dusk than before dawn, so light in the evening is most welcome.

Births. While twins born at 11:55 p.m. and 12:05 a.m. may have different birthdays, Daylight Saving Time can change birth order -- on paper, anyway. During the time change in the fall, one baby could be born at 1:55 a.m. and the sibling born ten minutes later, at 1:05 a.m. In the spring, there is a gap when no babies are born at all: from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.

I always thought the whole Daylight Savings Time started for the farmers. Not true, apparently. In fact, farmers generally oppose Daylight Saving Time, and don't particularly appreciate having to change their schedule twice a year.

Personally, I relish Daylight Savings Time. Reverting back to Standard Time means no more walks after work, no more playing outside until 7:00, and for some, their days begin and end in total darkness. I'm wondering if there have been any studies done linking depression to the end of Daylight Savings Time. To me, it signifies the beginning of six months or so of cold, dark, dreary days when I sit inside and eat comfort food, packing on my winter coat and waiting for the sun to come out again.

What's your take on the end of Daylight Savings Time? Do you love it or could you leave it?

Information for this blog was obtained from Web Exhibit, an interactive online museum of science, humanities and culture.

2 comments:

  1. I much prefer the times of year when there is still sunlight after my work day. I would rather that we skipped ahead in the fall so as to keep some light after 5. I am not a morning person so I don't care about the light situation in the morning, I am not waiting for the school bus or going out to run or bike so I do not care how long it is dark in the morning. Coming home from work in the dark however is depressing and makes it more difficult to run after work. At the same time, in the middle of summer it is tough to get the kids in bed at a reasonable time when it is light out until almost 10. I would like to see things adjusted so that sunset is after 6 in the winter and no later than 9 in the summer.

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  2. HATE HATE HATE Standard time!!! I like the light, I love it in fact. Waking up and getting out of bed in the cold darkness is one of the most depressing things I do on a regular basis. I bet there are more suicides during Standard Time. In fact, I'm not going to capitalize it anymore. standard time. There, that's what I think of you.

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