Thanks to Steve Ellis for this idea!
Should we blame farmers? What about school bus drivers? No. For Daylight Savings Time, we must blame World War I.
Making optimal use of daylight was an idea that was used even in ancient times. The Romans adjusted their water clocks for every month. In 1895, a New Zealand scientist named George Hudson suggested a 2-hour change twice a year. It didn’t get any takers.
The modern idea originated in Ontario, Canada in 1908. It was not an official policy but the idea spread. The next year, The British considered it but did not do it. Then came World War I. To save energy, Germany and Austria officially instituted a 1-hour time change, the infamous Spring Forward. Before the end of the war, Pres. Woodrow Wilson made Spring Forward, Fall Back U.S policy for the same reason – saving energy for the war effort.
Congress rescinded it in 1919, but Americans were enamored with the change. It was an idea that would not go away and many states kept the change. Finally in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act. All states had to enact Daylight Savings Time on the given date and hour, spring and autumn.
States are free to pass laws canceling Daylight Savings for their state. But it has no meaning – Congress must approve each request. California and Florida each passed a state law in 2018, but cannot stop changing the clocks. Only Arizona and Hawaii are currently exempt. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is sponsoring a bill to keep Daylight Savings Time year round. No more jumps forward and back.
Does it matter? The statistical and medical answers are a resounding yes! Effects on the body’s circadian rhythm last up to 10 weeks. Jumping forward results in 24% more hospital visits for heart attacks. The jump forward causes an hour’s less time to sleep for workers. Less sleep had a huge number of negative effects. Auto accidents and workplace injuries increase dramatically the first three days after the forward jump. The lack of sleep can cause poor decision-making. Going back results in an 11% increase in cases of depression. And the suicide rate goes up for weeks.
Today, about 75% of Americans would like to see the end of the time changes. It’s time!