It’s almost that time again… time to turn the clocks forward. Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 9, 2014. Since you have just fully adjusted to the clock-change from November, let’s mix things up and do it all over again.
This year, we “spring forward” on March 9th, whether we like it or not. Of course, for those of us who never did change our car clocks when the time changed last fall, maybe this is good news.
Ever wonder why we do this crazy back and forth twice per year? A common answer is, “It helps the farmers.” But the truth is, farmers hate DST. They get up with the sun regardless of the time, and changing the clocks just makes it harder for them to coordinate with vendors. That’s why, until recently, one farm-rich state was divided into areas that observe DST while other parts of the state ignore it.
DST actually began in World War I, as a way to save fuel by reducing the need for artificial light. After WWI, some states abandoned the practice for awhile, but in WWII, it was back. In 1973 Congress — in its infinite wisdom — decided we were going to observe DST all year long. But the grand experiment ended when they noticed that school bus accidents went way up that year.
After that, we went back to the twice yearly switch, though Congress still couldn’t resist tinkering. In ’86 they adopted a standard system for moving clocks forward in April and back in October. Then in 2005, in yet another effort to save fuel, Congress dictated the way we do it now, that is, spring-forward on the first Sunday in March, and fall-back on the first Sunday in November.
If you’re like me, the back and forth is just too much. A study done across Canada in the early 90s showed that on DST Monday (the Monday after the spring-forward) traffic accidents jumped eight percent. Some say that’s from the loss of an hour’s sleep, while others believe it’s the sudden difference in daylight during drive time. One researcher said in the New England Journal of Medicine that even small changes in sleep patterns can have major consequences for up to five days after each time shift. The upshot seems to be, more sleepy drivers, therefore more accidents, plus less productivity on the job and a whole lot of cranky people (not to mention late arrivals for those who forget to change their clocks).
While we’re on the subject — three states have not always observed DST along with the rest of us. Do you know which ones? Here are some clues:
- One state does not observe DST, with the exception of one area which is inhabited by a particular group of people.
- In one Midwestern state, rich with farms, some areas observed DST and some did not, until recently when the entire state adopted the system.
- One state completely ignores DST. Is it a coincidence that this state is wildly popular for tourists?
Are you stumped? Here are the answers:
- Arizona does not observe DST, except for the Navajo nation.
- Only some areas of Indiana observed DST until recently.
- Hawaii doesn’t care what the mainland does. When it comes to clocks, they say “Aloha, shaka, hang loose, don’t worry, be happy!”
So, unless you’re a Hawaiian, don’t forget to “spring forward” on Sunday, March 9, and brew an extra pot of coffee on Monday in preparation of that sleepy DST morning commute.
Written by Teresa Ambord, Editor and Author