Daylight Saving an Idea Whose Time Has Passed
By Marco Rubio and Vern Buchanan
Special to The Washington Post
This past weekend, Americans were forced to comply with an antiquated practice that continues to frustrate a growing majority of the public: the biannual practice of changing our clocks.
Daylight Saving Time was initiated more than 100 years ago in Germany to conserve energy during World War I. Originally observed for six months, in 2005, Congress voted to extend the practice in the United States for eight months, from March to November. This leaves 48 states changing their clocks twice a year for only 18 weeks of standard time.
It simply does not make sense. It’s time for Congress to finally do away with the hour shifting by making Daylight Saving Time permanent. There is no need for Americans to change their clocks twice a year, and studies have shown that making Daylight Saving Time permanent would benefit the economy and our country. From 1942 until 1945, during World War II, the United States made Daylight Saving Time year-round, and established earlier start dates in both 1974 and 1975. Recently, burgeoning disapproval of this temporal pendulum has garnered undeniable momentum.
In Florida, our state legislature -- in a bipartisan effort led by now Republican Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez -- overwhelmingly passed legislation in 2018 to make the change and provide more sunshine later in the day. The Sunshine State is not the only one in the Union to take action. In fact, more than 30 states are addressing the question of Daylight Saving Time in some form. And just this week, the move to make Daylight Saving Time permanent earned the seal of approval from President Donald Trump.
States, however, cannot make the change on their own; doing so requires approval from Congress. That’s why we urge our colleagues in Congress to pass our bipartisan legislation, the Sunshine Protection Act. Our bill would end the practice of having to change our clocks. It would not alter time zones, nor would it impact those states and territories that do not observe Daylight Saving Time. This is truly not a partisan issue, but instead, an everyday American issue.
Popular will and presidential endorsements aside, studies have found that time change is associated with an increase in strokes, heart attacks, seasonal depression, auto accidents and workplace injuries.
The potential benefits of a permanent Daylight Saving Time are substantial. Studies in the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Safety Research show that the move would reduce car crashes by increasing visibility for commuting drivers. The Transportation Department has stated that a uniform policy would save lives and prevent traffic injuries.
Researchers with the Brookings Institution also estimate that additional daylight in the evenings would reduce the number of robberies and found that extending daylight hours could save $59 million per year in avoided social costs.
Meanwhile, an extra hour of light at the end of the day could help tackle obesity. Studies in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity and the Journal of Physical Activity and Health show that during that time, children experience an increase in physical activity. Furthermore, a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that the extra hour of evening daylight increases pedestrian activity by 62 percent and cyclists’ activity by 38 percent.
Making Daylight Saving Time permanent could also come with economic benefits. The biannual changes overwhelmingly disrupt the synergy between farmers’ schedules and supply-chain partners. And a 2008 study by the Energy Department saw that extended daylight savings from a 2005 law incurred energy savings. With today’s technological advancements, the World War I-era German motive of energy conservation is now rendered irrelevant and should no longer serve as a reason to continue this outdated practice.
Momentum is on our side to put this century-old vestige to bed. Let’s act on this opportunity before we run out of time.
Marco Rubio, a Republican, represents Florida in the U.S. Senate. Vern Buchanan, a Republican, represents Florida’s 16th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.