So we turned our clocks back an hour to leave daylight saving time behind and go back to standard time.

But standard time isn’t standard time anymore because in four months we will go right back to daylight saving time (March 13, 2022).

Why bother?

Some places don’t.

When the Uniform Time Act became law in 1966, states were allowed to “opt out.” Hawaii did so in 1967. Arizona opted out in 1968. U.S. territories Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands don’t observe daylight saving time either.

Why make laws that people (legislators) can “opt out” of in the first place?

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, most Americans want to stop changing clocks twice a year and at least 33 states have introduced legislation addressing daylight saving time. The problem is people can’t agree on whether to keep clocks in daylight saving time mode year-round, or leave the clocks alone set to standard time.

And as is often the case, politicians and the people they represent don’t seem to be on the same page about it. Legislation tends to lean toward making daylight saving time permanent, while people polled, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, seem to favor standard time all the time.

Those who favor one over the other have all kinds of scary reasons as to why they think the hour difference is so important.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine wants daylight saving time to go away. It claims standard time more closely aligns with the daily rhythms of the body’s internal clock, and that the switch to daylight saving time each year increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents, cardiovascular events, and mood disturbances.

The academy states on its website: “Studies show that traffic fatalities have increased as much as six percent in the first few days following the change to daylight saving time, and a recently published research abstract found an 18 percent increase in adverse medical events related to human error in the week after switching to daylight saving time.”

A 2019 survey by the AASM found that 55 percent of adults feel extremely or somewhat tired after the spring change to daylight saving time. The National Safety Council wants us to go back to standard time as well. But, taking a look at some statistics from the NSC, we find that in 2019, February (the month before daylight saving time starts) was the month with the fewest motor-vehicle deaths, and the most deaths were in August.

“Looking at death rate per 100 million vehicle miles, the lowest rate occurred in April [the month after daylight saving time starts] and the highest was in September. The mileage death rate helps correct for the variation in monthly mileage and is a more accurate measure of risk when comparing trends,” the NSC states on its website nsc.org. “Over the last several years, January and February generally experienced the fewest motor-vehicle fatalities, while July, August, or October experienced the most.”

Well that’s not right after the time change is it?

This quote from the NSC seems to provide more of an explanation as to why there are more fatal vehicle crashes at certain times of the year: “Much of the variation in monthly motor-vehicle fatalities is associated with the number of vehicle miles. During the winter months, both vehicle miles and deaths go down, while in the summer months, vehicle miles and deaths increase.”

The NSC also states: “Because of this association, the death rate per 100 million vehicle miles does not fluctuate to the same degree during the course of the year. However, mileage variation does not fully explain the peak in deaths and death rates that often occur in October. Shorter daylight hours may play a role.”

That’s called fall – or autumn – when daylight hours are shorter. It doesn’t matter if you are on daylight saving time or standard time, or if you don’t even know how to tell time, there will still be 24 hours in a day and the daylight hours will decrease in the fall.

The NSC says that among nonfatal, preventable injuries in 2019, 48.3 million – about 1 in 7 – sought medical attention. “The death rate in 2019 was 52.7 per 100,000 population – a 3.1 percent increase from 2018 and a 55 percent increase over 1992 (the lowest rate on record, 34.0 per 100,000),” the NSC states. “Comparing 2019 to 2018, home deaths increased 4.9 percent, public deaths increased 4.7 percent, while work increased 1.8 percent.”

The only sector experiencing a decrease in 2019 was motor-vehicle crashes, down 0.8 percent.

“The increase in preventable deaths was largely driven by a 5 percent increase in both poisoning deaths (including opioid overdoses) and fall deaths,” says the NSC. That’s not fall deaths as in deaths that occur in autumn. They mean deaths from falling down, or onto something, or off of something that causes death.

So none of that suggests to me that changing our clocks an hour either way has life or death implications, but whoever wants us to stop making those changes has got to scare us into it somehow.

I think it’s silly to change our time twice a year, too, and I don’t care if we stick to standard time or adopt daylight saving time as a permanent thing. At the end of the day (so to speak) our sunrises and sunsets don’t change, just the clocks.

Steve Gillespie is editor of the Times Dispatch. Email him at editor@thetd.com.

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