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You know:  Spring forward and Fall backward.  That way, by turning our clocks ahead in the spring, we get an extra hour of daylight, and by turning it back in the fall, it just makes winter that much more depressing.

It is estimated that “More than one billion people in about 70 countries around the world observe DST in some form,”  with those countries south of the equator observing Daylight Saving Time from October to March.  For instance, most of Canada uses Daylight Saving Time, as well as all of Mexico and the EU.  Because countries that are close to the equator don’t need extra sun, they typically don’t observe Daylight Saving Time at all.  Then there’s China.  China, which technically should have five time zones, only has one:  China Time (which is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Time).  And China does not observe Daylight Saving Time at all.  So there, rest of the world!  The weirdest, though, is Australia.  Because various regions do not participate in Daylight Saving Time, and because the continent has three different time zones, there are both vertical and horizontal time zones (and some of those time zones are only thirty minute shifts). (Gettings)

No matter what part of the world you’re in, the time shifts over (if at all) in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  In the US, it shifts at 2:00 a.m., and in the EU, it shifts at 1:00 a.m.  That way today doesn’t suddenly become yesterday, and the only confusion it truly causes is with the closing time of some bars. (When we change our clocks)

In the United States, Daylight Saving Time is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and, with the exception of the Navajo Indian Reservation, by most of Arizona.  It used to be that in Indiana, those counties in the part of the state that were in the Eastern Time Zone did not observe Daylight Saving Time, while those that were in the Central Time Zone did.  However, to make things more... sane, the entire state switched over to Daylight Saving Time in 2006. (Saving Time, Saving Energy)

So why do it at all?  The idea behind Daylight Saving Time is simple:  We like sunshine better than darkness.  The vast majority of us would rather enjoy a sunny summer evening, when we’re more than likely to be home from work, than a sunny summer morning, when, if we’re not working, we’re probably still asleep.  In theory, messing with the clocks doesn’t change the amount of sunlight that falls on any given day, but to test that theory you would actually have to get up before noon.  And besides, would you rather it be dark when you went to work, or when you got home?

But rarely has a law been passed simply because we like it.  There needs to be more concrete reasons than that.  And there are...  maybe.  It is believed “that DST could be linked to fewer road accidents and injuries. The extra hour of daylight in the evening is said to give children more social time and can boost the tourism industry because it increases the amount of outdoor activities.”  Daylight Saving Time is also said to save energy because less artificial light is needed in evening hours.  However, whether any of these benefits are true or not is still to be definitively proven.  (Daylight Saving Time — DST.)  For instance, it is argued that just as much artificial light is needed to get ready for work in the morning as is saved in the evening.  And who really cares what time it is when you’re on vacation?  As well, by moving the change-over date to November it was also hoped that it would reduce the number of fatalities on Halloween night, when “Children’s pedestrian deaths are four times higher ... than on any other night of the year.”  However, it’s questionable whether it actually did, since it appears that the children just waited until dark to go out anyway. (Incidents and anecdotes)  It is also reported that Daylight Saving Time also cuts down on traffic fatalities, because it is far safer to drive in daylight, and more driving is done in the evening than in the morning.  On the other hand, more pedestrians get run down in the newly dark part of the evening in the week following Daylight Saving Time, as well as the week just before.  (Rationale and original idea)

If you don’t like Daylight Saving Time, and many people don’t, then blame it on Benjamin Franklin.  It was Franklin who first proposed Daylight Saving Time in 1784 as a means of saving lamp oil.  His cause was then championed by Englishman William Willet (1857-1915), who spent a fortune in lobbying, but was never able to get it passed in his lifetime. (Rationale and original idea)  In 1916, Germany was the first country to officially institute Daylight Saving Time, and Britain soon followed, but it really wasn’t until 1925 that England finally got it figured out.  From there, it quickly spread throughout Europe, and then a good part of the rest of the world. (Gettings)

From the outset, especially in America, Daylight Saving Time has caused confusion.  It wasn’t until 1883 that the United States and Canada even adopted standard time and time zones (mostly so the railroads could run on time), but even then, it took 35 years, in 1918, before the Standard Time Act became law.  That same law also established Daylight Saving Time.  However, that part of the law was repealed a year later, making Daylight Saving Time a local matter.  During WWII, most of the United States was on “War Time.”  We simply went on DST and never switched back. (Daylight Saving Time — DST)  Britain even featured “Double Summer Time” during WWII, so they could conserve energy, turning the clocks ahead a full two hours in the summer, and one hour in the winter. (Rationale and original idea) 

After the war, however, the United States returned to the chaos that had been.  (History of Daylight Time in the U.S)  For instance, following WWII, any local government was free to decide when it would start and end Daylight Saving Time, if they even observed it at all.   “One year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa alone....  And, on one Ohio to West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles!”  Not only was this confusing, but it was costly.  “Extra railroad timetables alone cost the today's equivalent of over $12 million per year.” (Incidents and anecdotes)  It wasn’t until the Uniform Time Act was passed in 1966 that Daylight Saving Time approached anything that could be called standard. (History of Daylight Time in the U.S)

By the way, even though Daylight Savings Time (“Savings” with an ess) is in common usage, it technically (and grammatically) should be Daylight Saving Time (“Saving” sans the ess).  “Saving” is a participle that modifies “Time.”  It is a saving daylight kind of time. (When we change our clocks.)  So now you not only can grumble about turning your clocks forward or backward, but you can grumble about grammar, too.

 

Work Cited

“Daylight Saving Time — DST.”  2012.  TimeandDate.com.  13 Aug. 2012.  http://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst/

Gettings, John, and Borgna Brunner.  “Daylight Saving Time.”  2007.  Infoplease.  13 Aug. 2012.  http://www.infoplease.com/spot/daylight1.html/

“History of Daylight Time in the U.S.”  09 Dec. 2011.  Naval Oceanography Portal.  13 Aug. 2012.  http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/daylight_time.php/

“Incidents and anecdotes.”  2008.  Daylight Saving Time. 13 Aug. 2012.  http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/k.html

“Rationale and original idea.”  2008.  Daylight Saving Time. 13 Aug. 2012.  http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/c.html

“Saving Time, Saving Energy:  Daylight Saving Time: Its History and Why We Use It.”  2012.  The California Energy Commission.  13 Aug. 2012.  http://www.energy.ca.gov/daylightsaving.html

“When we change our clocks.”  2008.  Daylight Saving Time. 13 Aug. 2012.  http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/b2.html