Daylight Savings Debate — To Change, or Not to Change

We are approaching the start of daylight savings time for 2017. Daylight savings will start at 2am on Sunday, March 12 and end at 2am on November 5th this year. That means this month we will all lose 1 hour when we have to move the clocks forward.

Washington state is once again attempting to eliminate daylight savings time. A similar attempt was made in 2015 but never left the Senate or House.

There are many people who are either for or against daylight savings time (DST), and they are often passionate about this view.

Increased Spending

A big reason to support keeping DST is that it supports increased summer spending. Having extra daylight at night keeps many people looking for an activity outside after work instead of going straight home. A noticeable increase in spending has been recorded for gas, travel, and outdoor businesses such as golf courses and summer concert venues.

Energy Savings

The original reasons for starting DST was mainly for energy saving purposes. If it was lighter longer into the night than natural light could be used to light homes instead of candles and electricity. However, little to no proof has been found to support any energy savings from the change.

Increased Car Accidents

One of the biggest complaints against DST is that it increases car accidents. A study in 2001 found that there is an increase in automobile accidents in the spring on the Monday following the DST change. It is assumed that this is related to sleep deprivation from losing an hour. That means that your daily commute on March 13th this year is potentially more dangerous than most other Mondays.

The DST change in the fall saw a more dramatic impact, but it is believed that change in behavior largely contributed to this. Behaviors such as drinking and driving, and going out later in the evening are more likely to blame for the increase in accidents. Tacoma criminal defense attorney Mark Treyz warns that misdemeanor charges can result from driving while sleep deprived, distracted, or under the influence. While it might be tempting to go out or go to bed later when you gain or lose an hour, it is advised to stay as close to your normal routine as possible to avoid any larger consequences than a minor inconvenience to your schedule.

Heart Health

Researchers have found that a decrease in sleep during the spring DST change has led to an increase in heart attacks during this day compared to the rest of the year. An increase in heart attacks by 25 percent was found on the Monday following the spring DST change. Changes in sleep patterns and quality of sleep can dramatically impact your heart health. That extra hour seems to be incredibly important when you see that heart attack risk fell 21 percent during the fall DST change.

Global Business

With the increase in technology the world is smaller than ever. Companies are doing business all over the world daily, and often need to adjust their life based on this. Workers on the West Coast will often work 6am-2pm to work the same hours as their East Coast 9am-5pm business partners. Most areas in Africa and Asia do not observe daylight savings time and Hawaii and Arizona follow suit in the United States. It can make it very difficult on anyone who must travel to, or communicate with, other areas of the world on a regular basis.

It will be interesting to see what happens if this law passes in Washington this time around. It seems that any change in time does not leave a lasting impact on the population after the initial shock, that we could potentially avoid making twice a year.