Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the period of the year when clocks are moved one hour ahead in spring and back one hour in fall. The phrase “spring forward, fall back” helps people remember the correct sequence. DST begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. In the United States, it creates more sunlit hours in the evening during months when the weather is the warmest. This supposedly saves energy while boosting productivity.
According to the Department of Energy, the U.S. adopted DST towards the end of World War I and then again during World War II. But between 1945 and 1966, there was no federal law regulating it. This led to confusion between states until Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966 establishing uniform dates for observing DST.
Today, most of the country and its territories observe DST – except Hawaii and Arizona (excluding the Navajo Nation), American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
But there’s a bit of controversy over whether DST really does save energy or boost productivity for businesses or individuals. There are stats supporting both sides of the debate. The real question is whether DST is worth the cost.
Think about the ways that time drives commerce and what it costs – in mental exertion and planning as well as in execution – to adjust twice a year.
- Transportation schedules (both passenger and freight) on air, rail and bus must be coordinated.
- Road commissions and transportation departments must change traffic light timing to accommodate shifting traffic patterns.
- Same goes for other 24/7 operations, from hospitals and medical centers to TV stations, retailers, casinos, security firms and banking systems.
It’s mind-boggling to even contemplate. Then again, it does keep individuals and businesses on their toes. And maybe that’s what makes DST worth the cost.