Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time in the United States?

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Current Daylight Saving Time Schedule.

-DST (Spring Forward): 2nd Sunday in March – 1st Sunday in November

The current Daylight Saving Time (DST) schedule came as a result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and was implemented in 2007.  Prior to 2007 DST started on the first Sunday in April and continued until the Last Sunday in October. As of 2007 DST starts on the second Sunday in March and continues to the first Sunday in November.


When and Why Did Daylight Saving Time  Start?

-DST was first introduced in the United States during World War I… (to) reduce the amount of… (energy) consumed.

Contrary to popular misconception DST was not instituted to aid farmers. Farmers rise and fall with the sun without regard for the hour on the clock, and in fact the majority of farmers are inconvenienced by DST.

DST was first introduced in the United States during World War I; during this time it was speculated and confirmed that turning the clock forward would reduce the amount of fuel consumed for artificial light. The need to reduce fuel consumption by the general population was created by the increased demand for fuel by military operations.

So Why Do We Still Have Daylight Saving Time?

-We have a National DST schedule in the United States to save energy and to eliminate scheduling confusion between areas with conflicting DST periods. 

After World War II (September 30, 1945) when the United States reverted back to “Peace Time” States and localities were given authority of weather they would observe DST or not. This caused widespread confusion within the public transportation and broadcasting industries, and as a result congress decided to control DST at a federal level with the Uniform Time Act of 1966. Since 1966 the government has changed the DST schedule several times, each time with the notion that energy would be preserved. Government evaluations show energy savings that are a direct result of DST scheduling so, despite protests, DST remains. Additional benefits believed to resulting from DST include reduction in traffic fatalities and health improvement due to additional sun exposure. 

It is important to note that some areas of the United States do not observe DST, these areas include: Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Are There Any Downsides to Daylight Saving Time?

-The short answer is that it is controversial. 

There are arguments on both sides of the spectrum. Some groups, organizations, and individuals claim that DST periods have many detrimental effects on the general population. Some of the proposed problems with DST are:

Safety Concerns:

Some argue that instead of reducing traffic accidents DST actually increases the number of accidents on the road due to lack of sleep. 

The rebuttal to this claim is simple, most studies find a slight decrease in traffic fatalities during DST, and any increase in fatalities that occurs on the day that clocks move forward is outweighed by the decrease resulting from better viability throughout the year.  


Health Risks:

While DST does increase the amount of sunlight some people get during the day, the damage to citizen’s health is far more substantial than the benefits of increased vitamin D synthesis and reduction of depression. 

Studies have shown that clock shifts can lead to increased heart attack and suicide rates for a short period after the Spring shift, however, for a short period after the Fall shift heart attack and suicide rates decrease.

Others claim that our internal clocks never really adjust to DST; this claim is based on the notion that our internal clocks respond to the sun and not to our own constructed social restraints. The idea is that the stress from clock shifts is easily avoidable by simply letting the sun dictate, as much as possible, our waking and sleeping time. 

Russia has decided that the stress on it’s citizens induced by DST is too great, and has opted to leave it’s clocks alone for the duration of the year. In 2011 Russia switched to permanent DST and then in 2014 made the switch to permanent standard time. The Russian government undoubtedly caused some stress in 2014, but at least it isn’t a change that occurs twice annually. 


DST Does Not Save Enough Energy:

The argument here is that the percentage of energy saved by DST schedules is so insignificant that it isn’t even worth the bother. 

The response to this is simply, even a small percent of the entire United States power usage is a big deal. 




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