Saturday, October 31, 2015

Stop Messing with our Clocks

As you know, we must change our clocks tonight to fall back one hour from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time.

This has been going on all my life, and I think it's time to acknowledge that this is an experiment that has failed. There is actually a petition online that gathers new signatures every year asking Congress to stop the madness of biennial time adjustments. Here's what one supporter wrote:

"Good.  Get rid of it.  I don't care which time we go with, 
but pick one and stick with it."

I think this person is on to something, for several reasons. 

1.  My house has approximate eleventy-seven digital clocks on appliances, and changing all of them is annoying. Plus I have a nice but crotchety wristwatch with a loose stem, and I'm frightened of it.  When I travel to different time zones, I keep it on my home time just to avoid adjusting it. When the time transitions in fall and spring, I take it to a jeweler to fix the thing.

2.  I'm not the only one.  A Rasmussen poll in 2013 found that only 37 percent of the American public thought Daylight/Standard time changes were "worth the trouble."  By contrast, 45 percent thought they were not worth the trouble.

3.  There is no agreement about the benefits of a Daylight Saving Time.  In World War II, the nation adopted full-year DST -- called "War Time" -- on the theory that it would save energy.  It was stopped after the war, and states were given the option to adopt their own time schedules. 
     A 1975 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation concluded that DST saved energy.
     One year later, in 1976, a study by the National Bureau of Standards came to the opposite conclusion. 
     Still,the experts argue. 
     To this day, some retail experts believe that longer retail shopping hours, enabled by brighter evening hours, cause or at least encourage more retail sales.  This in the age of Amazon. 

4.  U.S. states are not unanimous about the national time scheme:  Hawaii and Arizona do not participate in the biennial switchoff.  Here are some other states where legislation has been sponsored to drop out of the system:  Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington.  
     If several states drop out, Amtrak schedules and on-time performance results are going to be even worse than they already are.

5. The week after each time change is fraught, with upticks in car accidents and cardiac events.
     When Daylight Saving Time begins, more children are hit by cars on their way to school in the dark.  
     When Daylight Saving Time ends, more walkers are hit by cars whose drivers do not see them in the dark.  

As for me, I'm as flexible as a soft pretzel.  I would be fine with earlier sunrises or later sunsets.  

Just not both.

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