Upcoming Conference | 2019 Re-Wire Policy Conference, Dec 10, 2019 Register

Wyble: Make daylight saving time permanent

(Image courtesy of raduranga)

John Wyble is the Creative Director at Indelible Media, a Democratic campaign consulting firm. He will write an occasional column for the Wire, called “From the Left,” throughout the year. 


You can see the advertisements now: Since you’ve elected me, it’s lighter, you get more sleep, less heart attacks, and fewer car accidents!

This could be true, if the Legislature passes a bill that would make daylight saving time permanent. This would mean we would not fall back an hour in November.

The bill actually has bipartisan support in the Senate, with Sen. Sam Hunt (D-22), Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-24) and Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-15) sponsoring the bill. On the House side, Rep. Marcus Ricelli (D-3) is leading the effort.

You may be wondering why we wouldn’t just keep the system we have, where every fall we go back one hour, and every spring we “save daylight” by springing forward one hour.

Well, it turns out this little adjustment has some pretty serious consequences. Hospitals report a 24-percent spike in heart attacks the day after daylight saving time starts. Car crashes in the US caused by people who are tired from daylight-saving likely cost 30 extra people their lives over the nine-year period from 2002-2011. It has also been shown that daylight saving time causes more strokes, more injuries at work and even more suicides.

It turns out that we are fragile creatures and this little hour change wreaks havoc on our internal clock.

The history of daylight saving time does not seem very germane to our modern-day lifestyles.

According to Wikipedia, “The first states to adopt daylight saving time nationally were those of the German Empire and its World War I ally Austria-Hungary commencing April 30, 1916 as a way to conserve coal during wartime. Britain, most of its allies, and many European neutrals soon followed. Russia and a few other countries waited until the next year, and the United States adopted daylight saving in 1918.”

We obviously are not trying to conserve coal, and there isn’t any research to suggest that daylight saving time is saving energy.

A 2017 meta-analysis of 44 studies found that daylight saving time leads to electricity savings of only 0.34 percent during the days when daylight saving time applies.

The meta-analysis furthermore found that “electricity savings are larger for countries farther away from the equator, while subtropical regions consume more electricity because of daylight saving time.”

This means that daylight saving time may conserve electricity in some countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, but be wasteful in other places, such as Mexico, the southern United States, and northern Africa. The savings in electricity may also be offset by extra use of other types of energy, such as heating fuel.

In an Inlander article, Rep. Marcus Ricelli said, “I never enjoyed walking out of the office and it’s pitch black. For parents who have kids who play after school activities, those things start getting cut back as it gets darker sooner… It’s hard for those kids to get out of school and it’s dark.”

We would wake up in the winter to a few sunrises (on the west side, it would be very few), and it would stay light after five. What’s not to like?

The challenge with this bill is it doesn’t just need approval from the Legislature and the governor. It’s perfectly fine, according to the federal government, to not include your state in the daylight saving time change. However, the federal government would need to approve a change to permanently keep daylight savings time year round.

Both the Senate and House bills have made it pass the initial cutoff and continue on to the floor debate. 

Yes, there are many other issues in the legislature. However, it’s not often that a simple bill with bipartisan support could effect and benefit every person in the state. That seems worth doing.