Falling back: Early nights, darker commutes on way as Daylight Saving Time ends

DOVER — Many people don’t like the idea of trading an extra hour’s sleep for one less hour of sunlight as Daylight Saving Time ends — and clocks make their traditional fall back one hour — as they did at 2 a.m. this morning.

They say it messes up their routines, their commutes — and their heads.
In hopes of ending the twice a year spring forward and fall back time changes, Gov. John Carney signed Senate Bill 73 into law in August.

However, it would take Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey to enact similar legislation before Delaware can begin the process of placing itself in the Atlantic Standard Time Zone on the first Sunday in November, essentially remaining in Daylight Saving Time (DST) from there on out.

“So many here in the mid-Atlantic live in one state and work in another,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride, the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 73, when he introduced the legislation. “No one wants to lose an hour between home and the office. But if we all agree, we’ll never have to change our clocks again.”

Sen. McBride said it is simply time to move away from what he sees are antiquated time changes.

“This might seem like a trivial effort to some, but there is a growing body of evidence that these clock changes are contributing to some serious health risks, including spikes in heart attacks, strokes and pedestrian fatalities,” Sen. McBride said. “My colleagues and I here in the Delaware Senate — and in legislatures around the country — believe the time has come for Delaware and the rest of the nation to have a conversation about whether this social experiment still makes sense from a public policy perspective.

“I don’t know one person who likes moving their clocks forward and back. It’s more than an annoyance, frankly. It’s a social experiment that has produced more harm than good and is now on the verge of becoming a public-health issue.”

Seven other states — including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington — have approved legislation to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. These states still need the OK from the federal government to enact the change, however.

Today, about 40 percent of the countries worldwide use Daylight Saving Time to make better use of daylight and to conserve energy.
The idea didn’t catch on globally until Germany introduced DST in 1916. Clocks in Germany, and its ally Austria, were moved ahead by one hour on April 30, 1916 — two years into World War I. The rationale behind the clock change was to minimize the use of artificial lighting to save fuel for the war effort.

Daylight Saving Time was not formally adopted in the United States until 1918 and was used during World Wars I and II.
DST became a fixture in the United States with the Uniform Time Act of 1966, when it was signed into Public Law on April 12, 1966, by President Lyndon Johnson.

Has DST outlived its purpose?
Rob Sussman started a petition to send to Gov. Carney to get rid of Daylight Saving Time.

In his poll, he wrote, “A measurable uptick in fatal accidents, a general lethargy at work and at home, a groggy commute – all symptoms of the inexplicable, twice-a-year rigmarole that is ‘Daylight Savings Time.’

“It’s time to bury this outdated ritual. Daylight Savings Time has its roots in policy passed over 100 years ago during the height of World War I. The common justification for DST: that it saves electricity, is utterly false. It doesn’t really measurably help the agricultural industry. It doesn’t really help the retail industry. We don’t need to do this anymore.”

Nowadays, many people don’t see the need for the biannual time changes. They say DST has outlived its usefulness, with some wondering if it ever had any at all.

“I like getting an extra hour of sleep,” said Beth Mills, of Dover. “I just hate that it gets darker earlier.”
Linda Deaton, of Ocean City, Maryland, said there is an easy solution.
“Let nature take care of it,” she said. “I do not like the time changes.”
Dover’s Megan Lloyd also said it’s time to stop messing with the clocks.
“I dislike it,” she said. “I think they should let it be. Farmers now have headlights on all their equipment.”

Bob Hice came to Dover via the United States Air Force. He said he doesn’t think it would be a big deal to stop fussing with the clocks.
“I lived in Indiana and they did not change the time,” Mr. Hice said. “The earth didn’t explode, and the farmers seemed to do just fine. I don’t like it being dark at 4:30 when you leave work.”
However, there are some who say there are positives with DST.
“I dislike it getting dark so early, however, it will be nice that my daughter isn’t standing at the bus stop in the dark,” said Dover’s Rebecca Sinclair.
Dover’s Keith Leeuwen just shrugged it off, saying, “It’s always been that way, so no diffy.”
AAA officials: Less daylight equals more crashes
Officials from AAA said that moving the clock back one hour can also contribute to more accidents on the highways as drowsy drivers become a factor.

AAA said sleep-deprived drivers cause more than 6,400 deaths and 50,000 debilitating injuries on American roadways each year, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Delaware State Police reported that in 2018, drowsy drivers were a contributing factor in 6,646 crashes in Delaware, resulting in 12 fatalities and more than 1,300 injuries.

“While many will enjoy an extra hour of sleep this weekend, few commuters and motorists realize the added dangers that can come as the result of a time change — especially when they are behind the wheel,” said Ken Grant, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Although we gain an hour of sleep, our sleep patterns are disrupted. This can result in unsafe drowsy driving episodes.”

Previous research by the AAA Foundation estimates that drowsy driving is a factor in an average of 328,000 crashes annually, including 109,000 crashes that result in injuries and 6,400 fatal crashes.
“Drivers should not rely solely on their bodies to provide warning signs of fatigue and should instead prioritize getting plenty of sleep in their daily schedules and simply be aware that the shorter days this time of year can create more drowsiness behind the wheel,” Mr. Grant added.

Shorter days also make things more dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“Everyone needs to remember that as daylight fades sooner, pedestrians walking on the roadway may not be visible,” said Cynthia Cavett, spokesman for the Delaware Office of Highway Safety. “For those walking at night, wear a brightly colored jacket or shirt, carry a flashlight and wear some kind of reflective material. Remember, you are vulnerable when you are walking or bicycling. Assume drivers can’t see you and walk/ride defensively.”

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