Murray Moves to Make Daylight Savings Time Permanent
WASHINGTON — During a floor speech last week, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., urged the Senate to pass legislation which would eliminate the “fall back” of daylight savings time which happens each November.
“Beyond convenience, this really is a matter of health and safety. Studies have shown that our switch to standard time can increase rates of seasonal depression, as well as heart problems and risk of stroke. Researchers also believe if we made daylight savings time permanent there would be fewer car accidents and evening robberies… and it could even lead to greater energy savings,” said Murray.
That’s why she, along with Sen. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., has reintroduced the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, which would make daylight saving time permanent. The act was first introduced in congress in 2018 by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and was reintroduced in 2019.
In 1966, the first federal policy to regulate a change in clocks for daylight savings time was passed under the Uniform Time Act. The act prohibited any state from permanently observing daylight saving time but did allow states to opt out of observing daylight saving time and remain on standard time.
Only two states have opted into this option, Hawaii and Arizona, which do not change their clocks and remain in a standard time zone all year.
According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures 19 states have enacted legislation or passed resolutions to go against the change in clocks twice a year, and instead enact a permanent year-round daylight savings time, although it is prohibited under the Uniform Time Act.
Although changing the clocks each November might seem like nothing more than an inconvenient task, Jose Maria Martin-Olalla, a researcher at the University of Seville in Spain, finds that if daylight savings time were canceled it would have negative health effects on the body.
According to his research published in Chronobiology International, this is because daylight saving time has shown to help to mitigate exposition of human activity to the dawn hours of the winter.
“Our physiology is just ready to start doing things after we get the input of the sunlight. If you don’t change clocks this week, then you will find mornings very dark in the winter,” said Martin-Olalla, during a video interview with The Well News.
To conduct the study, Martin-Olalla compared data of human activity from Germany and the United Kingdom, which are separated by 15 degrees longitude, or one time zone.
Data of human activity in Germany, which did not practice daylight savings time from the end of World War II to 1980, was compared to data from the UK, where daylight savings has been practiced since 1918. The findings were then compared to data of activity in the U.S.
The findings from the study indicate the risks induced by circadian misalignment around the transition dates are balanced by better alignment of social clocks to the natural day in summer and in winter. This means that changing our clocks twice a year through daylight savings time allows for more effective alignment of human activity to the starting point of the photoperiod, which is the period of time each day in which we receive the most illumination.
“From the point of chronology and physiology, we didn’t make daylight savings time for no reason. Energy savings can explain why we started it, but can’t explain why daylight savings time succeeded in modern society, and succeeded in American cities in the 1920-1930s,” said Martin-Olalla.
“It’s not a question of energy savings, it’s a question of people locked to human activity,” concluded Martin- Olalla.
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