Valley Voices

Let’s scrap Daylight Savings Time, a phenomenon we love to hate

Daylight ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, when clocks are set back one hour.
Daylight ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, when clocks are set back one hour. Associated Press

According to www.timeanddate.com, Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday at 2 a.m. At that time, everyone is to set their clocks back one hour – to 1 a.m. We effectively repeat the hour between 1 and 2 a.m.

Daylight Savings Time is a ritual used by most people of the world. It is loved by some and bashed by others. Some people think it is time to discontinue this ritual.

DST was first suggested in 1895 by George Hudson, an amateur botanist in New Zealand. More daylight after work would give him more time to collect insects.

Later, in 1905, British builder, George Hudson, suggested the use of DST. His reason – more time to play golf after work.

Germany seems to be the first country to embrace DST. They put it into effect in 1916, to conserve coal. The United States followed suite in 1918.

On Feb. 9, 1942, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed a bill into law placing the U.S. on permanent “War Time” (DST, as we know it today). It was repealed when Japan surrendered in 1945. I remember FDR speaking over the radio and urging the citizens of the United States to use the extra hour of daylight in the evening to plant and cultivate a victory garden.

But DST causes some problems. For example, a mother delivered twins – a boy and a girl – Nov. 6, 2016. The boy was delivered at 1:55 a.m. Ten minutes later, at 1:05 a.m., the girl was delivered. But wait a minute!

The numbers indicate the girl was born 50 minutes before the boy, not 10 minutes after. Remember, DST ended at 2 a.m. Nov. 6, 2016. The boy was born five minutes before DST ended – the girl five minutes after.

Even if the boy’s birth certificate reads 1:55 a.m. DST and the girl’s reads 1:05 a.m. Standard Time, confusion still reigns.

Another reason for hating DST is the chore of changing all those clocks, both in spring and autumn. The average American family probably owns 15 or 20 clocks and watches. While it’s true that televisions, computers and cell phones set the time automatically, we still have the inconvenience of setting all those other clocks and watches.

Another down side to changing time has to do with automobile accidents. Driving seems to get worse just after the time changes. One researcher found a 5 to 7 percent increase in fatal accidents during the three days after switching to DST.

Other studies show a similar result after switching back to Standard Time. One study concludes that the jump in fatal accidents after a time switch is caused by drivers having trouble instantly adjusting to the difference in light conditions.

As farmers during the 1940s, we never observed War Time, as President Roosevelt suggested. We had our own DST. At the first hint of daylight, no matter what time the clock indicated, we got up and started our day. We had our own special alarm clock – the roosters on our farm.

Almost everything we did on our farm was guided by daylight or the position of the sun in the sky. Sun-up usually found us at the breakfast table. Shortly thereafter, we began our daily chores. When the sun was at its zenith, we had our noon meal. One hour of sun left in the sky signaled time to quit plowing and begin our nightly chores. We had to finish before dark.

In late autumn and early winter, I always hunted opossums for their pelts, to be sold in order to buy Christmas gifts. I didn’t own a watch, so I estimated the time of night by observing the position of a certain group of stars in the sky. Everything we did was gauged by the position of the sun or the stars. Who needed DST for that?

In my opinion, it’s time to scrap DST. It really doesn’t serve any real purpose. We are all smart enough to begin work at the appropriate time to accommodate the weather conditions at different seasons. We don’t need the help of DST to accomplish that.

Loran Hugh Parker of Fresno is a retired teacher. Connect with him at loranhparker@gmail.com.

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