I have been curious on how a computer works since I was a teenager. One day, I was setting up the time zone on a computer which has just been installed and I stumbled upon an option for daylight saving time. I have been wondering what daylight saving time means since that day. I kept asking why do we need to save the daylight. However, I have suppressed that question until now because that option does not apply to the Indonesian time zone I have been living in. On the contrary, the United States government observes daylight saving time due to numerous advantages like more energy savings and fewer road accidents despite ongoing controversy from researchers and average citizens.
According to Downing (2005), the Daylight Saving Time bill was first enacted as a law in 1918. However, it was repealed in 1919 due to unpopularity. Then it was signed into law again in 1942 during the first World War. Technically, as explained by Aldrich (2014), the current protocol of daylight saving time in the United States is to move the clock one hour ahead on the second Sunday of March at 2:00 AM. Every clock must be adjusted to 3:00 AM. This starting point of daylight saving time is often called “spring forward”. After eight months, the clock will be adjusted back at 2:00 AM on the first Sunday of November. Every clock must be moved back to 1:00 AM. This ending point of daylight saving time is also often called “fall back”. However, the most debated implication of it is not merely the adjusting task because nowadays most people use digital clocks on their phone that can adjust automatically via the internet or the cellular network.
The most debated part of daylight saving time is the reasons behind it. Some people continuously questioning it and some other people tirelessly promoting it every year. Newspapers and magazines constantly publishing articles that cover both sides every year. The most heated arguments, obviously, happen around the starting point and ending point of the annual clock adjustment. However, as implied by Downing (2005) in the introduction of his book, most people seem to get more confused when they are asked to think more about it. These people prefer to adjust their clock just to get it over with and move on with their more important activities to keep their sanity.
The United States Department of Energy reported the details of energy savings across the country to the United States Congress after the enactment of the new daylight saving law in 2007. The new law demands the daylight saving time to begin three weeks earlier in the spring and stop one week later in the fall. The United States Department of Energy was asked to find out whether the extended daylight saving time contributes to more energy efficiency. The report says that there are differences in energy savings between states. The total electricity savings of Extended Daylight Saving Time were approximately 1.3 Tera Watt-hour (TWh). This number is equal to 0.5 percent per each day of Extended Daylight Saving Time, or 0.03 percent of total electricity consumption over the year. As a reference, the total of 2007 electricity consumption in the United States was 3,900 TWh (Belzer, Hadley, and Chin: 2008).
Some of the supporters of daylight saving time went even further to propose observing daylight saving time full-year. A study conducted by Coate and Markovitz (2004) found an interesting result that supports this idea. They concluded that full-year daylight saving time can decrease pedestrian accidents to approximately 171 per year, or by 13% of current total accidents in the morning and evening. They also concluded that full-year daylight saving time can reduce motor vehicle accidents by 195 per year, or 3% of current total accidents during the morning and evening hours. However, other study found an impact that supports those who are against daylight saving time. A study conducted by Barnes and Wagner (2009) concluded that the beginning period of daylight saving time has negative impacts on institutions. On the first Monday of daylight saving time when people ‘lost’ one hour, employees lost 40 minutes of sleep, had 5.7% more workplace injuries, and lost 67.6% more work days because of injuries than on other days.
While living and studying in the United States, I have an opportunity to experience and know more about daylight saving time. Finally, I have an answer to the latent question I have kept inside my head. After having read many of complexities that surround it, I came to better understanding of what it is and why it was enacted. The United States government has decided that daylight saving time implementation contributes more advantages than disadvantages. Therefore, the enactment of it has been prolonged since 2007. However, in addition to the advantages gained by observing daylight saving time, the United States government should also overcome the negative side effects of it to better serve the citizens.
Aldrich, Bob. “Saving Time, Saving Energy.” Daylight Saving Time -. California Energy Comission. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://www.energy.ca.gov/daylightsaving.html>.
Barnes, Christopher M, and David T Wagner. “Changing to Daylight Saving Time Cuts into Sleep and Increases Workplace Injuries.” The Journal of applied psychology 94.5 (2009): 1305–17. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.
Belzer, David B., Stanton W. Hadley, and Shih-Miao Chin. “Impact of Extended Daylight Saving Time on National Energy Consumption.” Report to Congress, Energy Policy Act of 2005, Section 110 (2008). U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://www1.eere.energy.gov/ba/pba/pdfs/epact_sec_110_edst_technical_documentation_2008.pdf>.
Coate, Douglas, and Sara Markowitz. “The Effects of Daylight and Daylight Saving Time on US Pedestrian Fatalities and Motor Vehicle Occupant Fatalities.” Accident; analysis and prevention 36.3 (2004): 351–7. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.
Downing, Michael. Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving. Washington, D.C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005. Print.