So far this year, 36 states have voted to either stop switching the clocks forward and back each year or at least undertake a study of the question. Arizona and Hawaii dumped daylight savings time ages ago. But the arguments against changing the clocks are now focusing on more than just the annoyance factor. According to NBC News, the medical community is weighing in and saying that all of this springing forward and falling behind has health consequences, and it might wind up killing you.
In the days after our chronically sleep-deprived country “springs forward,” costing us an hour of rest, disoriented Americans face a slightly greater risk of heart attack and stroke. There are more car crashes. Workplace accidents increase, too.
For decades, most of the United States has observed daylight saving time, dutifully changing the clocks twice a year. But recently, many have begun to question the semi-annual switch — not only because of the potential dangers associated with it, but because staying on one time year-round could bring benefits ranging from the economic to the emotional, according to those leading the charge to “lock the clock.”
“We don’t have a good reason to do it. Let’s stop,” said Scott Yates, 54, of Denver, an activist who for more than five years has advocated for the elimination of the time change and has testified before state legislatures about it. “Even if it doesn’t kill you, it’s annoying.”
Looking at the details in the study they’re referencing, it’s hard to deny that there does appear to be some correlation between losing an hour of sleep every spring and certain types of accidents or health problems. Bur the difference isn’t really all that great and I’m not sure it couldn’t be explained by other factors. Still, the annoyance factor is pretty hard to deny.
So what’s the argument in favor of keeping the current system? People seem to like the extra hour of sunlight in the evening and they don’t like going to work or sending kids off to school in the dark in the winter. Fair enough, I suppose, but we should at least keep the system standardized. Plenty of people have to regularly connect with professional or family contacts around the country on a regular basis and they know what I’m talking about. (I regularly have to do radio hits with stations around the country.) It’s tough enough figuring out the difference between the basic time zones before you finish your first cup of coffee. Keeping a list of which states do or don’t use daylight savings is just adding misery to annoyance.
That brings up the issue of how the change can be made if we’re to do it at all. The most popular choice seems to be a switch to permanent daylight savings time, and seven states have voted to do that so far with more currently debating it. But even the ones who voted it in can’t actually make the change. Federal law allows any state to skip out on daylight savings if they wish (as Hawaii and Arizona do). But the same law says that if you’re going to go on daylight savings it can only be for the dates specified by the federal government.
Is it time to change that law and let everyone do as they wish? I say no. As I mentioned above, four time zones plus a crap-shoot of which state is or isn’t shifting twice a year is way too annoying. Let’s either put the entire country on daylight savings permanently or do away with the idea entirely.