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Why did daylight saving time (DST) start, and why does it still continue?

When asking a random sample of people we heard two answers again and again: "To help the farmers" or "Because of World War I ... or was it World War II?"In fact, farmers generally oppose daylight saving time. In Indiana, where part of the state observes DST and part does not, farmers have opposed a move to DST. Farmers, who must wake with the sun no matter what time their clock says, are greatly inconvenienced by having to change their schedule in order to sell their crops to people who observe daylight saving time.

Daylight saving time did indeed begin in the United States during World War I, primarily to save fuel by reducing the need to use artificial lighting. Although some states and communities observed daylight saving time between the wars, it was not observed nationally again until World War II.

Of course, World War II is long over. So why do we still observe daylight saving time?

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 provided the basic framework for alternating between daylight saving time and standard time, which we now observe in the United States. But Congress can't seem to resist tinkering with it. For example, in 1973 daylight saving time was observed all year, instead of just the spring and summer. The current system of beginning DST at 2 AM on the first Sunday in April and ending it at 2 AM on the last Sunday in October was not standardized until 1986.

The earliest known reference to the idea of daylight saving time comes from a purely whimsical 1784 essay by Benjamin Franklin, called "Turkey versus Eagle, McCauley is my Beagle." It was first seriously advocated by William Willit, a British Builder, in his pamphlet "Waste of Daylight" in 1907.

Over the years, supporters have advanced new reasons in support of DST, even though they were not the original reasons behind enacting DST.

One is safety. Some people believe that if we have more daylight at the end of the day, we will have fewer accidents.

In fact, this "benefit" comes only at the cost of less daylight in the morning. When year-round daylight time was tried in 1973, one reason it was repealed was because of an increased number of school bus accidents in the morning. Further, a study of traffic accidents throughout Canada in 1991 and 1992 by Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia before, during, and immediately after the so-called "spring forward" when DST begins in April. Alarmingly, he found an eight percent jump in traffic accidents on the Monday after clocks are moved ahead. He attributes the jump to the lost hour of sleep. In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Coren explained, "These data show that small changes in the amount of sleep that people get can have major consequences in everyday activities." He undertook the study as a follow up to research showing that even an hour's change can disrupt sleep patterns and "persist for up to five days after each time shift." Other observers attribute the huge spike in accidents on the first Monday of DST to the sudden change in the amount of light during driving times. Regardless of the reason, there is no denying that changing our clocks has a significant cost in human lives.

While some people claim that they would miss the late evening light, a presumably similar number of people love the morning light. And projects, postponed during the sun filled summer, will be tackled with new vigor when the sun sets an hour earlier each day.

Congress appears to have felt we were not having enough of a difficult time so in 2007 they passed a law starting Daylight Savings time 3 weeks earlier and ending it one week later. This cost US companies billions to reset automated equipment, put us further out of sync with Asia and Africa time-wise, inconvenienced most of the country, all in the name of unproven studies that claim we save energy.

STANDARDTIME.COM SAYS: If we are saving energy let's go year round with Daylight Saving Time. If we are not saving energy let's drop Daylight Saving Time!

How you can help stop this madness of changing the time twice a year.

Write your congress person about this. A simple letter or email from enough people will get their attention. Just tell them you want to STOP moving the time twice a year and refer them to standardtime.com for more information.

Here is how you can contact your congress person:

Contacting the Congress
www.congress.org
Congressional Email Directory

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Tags: Day, End, Light, Saving, Time, WHY

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USFRA Staff
Comment by Capt. Fyre Walker on November 5, 2010 at 3:11pm
I wish our state would wake the hell up about that outdated ritual! It's bad enough we're split between Central and Eastern times, we also have to deal with that crap. LOL!

USFRA Staff
Comment by Janet Liebsch on November 5, 2010 at 2:13pm
Well... we 'zonies don't observe it since studies showed it would not save energy plus it's just too dang hot in summer months. So half the year we're Pacific time then half on Mountain time (starting Sunday). I love not having to change clocks, systems, etc and wish the rest of country would follow suit. We'll definitely harass our congress critters in whatever state we eventually relocate to next year since it's useless and costly IMHO.

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