The Hands of Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time (DST) happened on March 13, 2016. Patch reported that the hour sprang ahead by 2 a.m. Sunday. While the time change was automatic for most digital devices, analog clocks needed to be wound ahead by an hour to compensate for the difference. According to David Prerau, the country’s leading expert on the history of DST, the practice jumpstarted, not due to the urgings of Ben Franklin, as many believe, but by William Willett, who was a golfer and habitual early bird.

He wrote a pamphlet solely dedicated to instituting DST throughout the United Kingdom and lobbied Parliament for years in order to get them to address it. He died in 1915 before it was implemented. Prerau explained that eventually Germany took to the idea and ran with it, seeing the potential for conserving energy and resources in 1916 during WWI. The idea of DST quickly spread throughout the rest of Europe and three weeks after the Germans began to use the time-saving measure, Britain swiftly adopted it. The United States used it DST during WWI and again in WWII.

However, even the concept of including as much daylight into one’s waking hours was not without controversy. Prerau details that those who lived in the bustling cities loved DST, whereas those in the rural communities did not. They found they would have to wake before the sun to place their products on the city bound trains that were running an hour behind on DST schedule. Congress found itself at the heart of a timely matter because farmers were petitioning the government to cease the practice of DST, due to the railroad schedules. Unbeknownst to the farmers, a conflict was close at hand due to the meddlesome DST bill.

Congress voted on behalf of the farmers, making the decision to repeal the DST legislation. President Woodrow Wilson had other ideas and vetoed the repeal, both times Congress attempted to pass the bill. Unwilling to be deterred, Prerau said Congress voted to override the presidential veto.

Eventually, DST became standardized in 1966. Prerau cites its many advantages saying it is safer on the road, as people do not like driving in the dark. The extra hour of sunlight helps to reduce crime, and there are savings in the cost of electric energy. Although, the savings amount to one percent Prerau says to think of it as free energy.

NPR asked whether DST was still necessary, as it causes people to lose touch with their circadian rhythm or internal body clock. In fact, parts of the U.S. chose to opt out of the measure, such as Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, America Samoa, the Northern Marianas, a portion of Arizona, and Hawaii.

Currently, there are complaints being lodged against Willett’s grand plan to show everyone the majesty of the morning. This time, the complaints are from California, New England, and Rhode Island. California wants to eradicate the practice. New England, “wants to secede from the populous Eastern Time Zone and throw their lot in with Nova Scotia,” says NPR. Rhode Island’s state representative, Blake Filippi, wants to spring forward so hard he never falls back again, “Everyone I speak to would rather have it light in the evening, rather than light in the morning.”  He hopes the whole region will shift toward the east and follow the Atlantic time zone.

State complaints aside, Patch reported that Willett proposed moving around in the early morning would do wonders for one’s health. Vox reported that actually there is a slight influx of car accidents, heart complications, and workplace accidents that are a result of the stress induced by DST. They point out that if DST were the norm, it would be nice for people who work inside, and would like to have sunlight at the end of their workday, in the chilly winter months.

By Juanita Lewis
Edited by Jeanette Smith and Cathy Milne


NPR: Clocks Spring Forward Tonight, Reviving Debate Over Daylight Saving Time
Patch: Daylight Saving Time 2016 is Here, Clocks Spring Forward
Vox: It’s time to make daylight saving time year-round

Top Image Courtesy of Lara604’s Flickr Page – Creative Common License
Featured Image Courtesy of David Malouf’s Flickr Page – Creative Common License

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