On March 8 at 2 a.m., we are instructed by an act of Congress to defy the natural order of things and pretend for the next several months that the time is an hour later than it actually is. When will Congress cease our torment and end this nonsense called Daylight Savings Time?
It's only us and Europe. Most areas of Africa, Asia and South America do not observe DST because they know that not only does it do far more harm than good, it actually kills people. Heart attacks increase by 10 percent on the Monday and Tuesday following the shift to DST. Traffic accidents increase 8 percent on the Monday following the changeover because we’ve lost an hour’s sleep. And not all of those victims survive.
Nothing good is accomplished by DST. It does not promote good health. It only moves an hour of artificial lighting from evening to morning. The National Bureau of Standards concluded decades ago that there is no significant energy savings from DST. So why do we keep having to reset our watches and all those digital clocks and the stove, the microwave and now, even new refrigerators?
Michael Downing, author of "Spring Forward the Annual Madness of Day Light Saving Time" says there are two reasons why DST remains: our love of long summer evenings, but primarily, the powerful retail lobby, "particularly recreation, bbq, and home and gardening remains invested in keeping DST. Longer nights mean people have more time to shop and go to baseball games (and use more gas — further cutting into the alleged energy savings)."
Downing says each year the convenience store lobby (a large supplier of gas) gives out gift bags to Congress to celebrate DST. He’s observed how every 20 years the federal government adds another month of DST — the last one because the sugar lobby wanted to extend trick or treating hours. And each time we extend DST, America becomes more out of sync with the rest of the world.
Too slowly, more states are joining the fight to end DST. Last year, Tennessee came on board, voting to move the clocks ahead and keep them there if Congress approves. But until Congress does so, Tennessee and other states with similar laws will continue to spring forward, and fall back.
If Congress can't be persuaded to repeal the Uniform Time Act of 1966 it ought at least amend it to allow states to determine whether they will observe DST year-round. Once that happens, we suspect other states will quickly do likewise, making life much easier for all of us and saving some from a premature death.