The U.S. is one of the few countries that still observe daylight saving time (DST), the practice of moving clocks forward by one hour in the spring and back by one hour in the fall. But did you know that the U.S. once tried to make DST permanent, not just for half of the year, but for the whole year?
That’s right, in 1974, President Nixon signed a law that made DST year-round for two years, as a response to the energy crisis caused by the Arab oil embargo. The idea was to save energy by making better use of the daylight hours, and reduce the need for artificial lighting in the evenings.
But the experiment was a bust. It yielded negligible energy savings, and, worse, it proved wildly unpopular. It made for darker mornings, which endangered children walking to school. It disrupted farmers’ schedules. It messed with prime-time television viewing.
“The committee found that the extension of daylight saving time ‘had little or no effect on energy consumption’ and that ‘a substantial number of people testified that they disliked the change,'” reported Time magazine.
The experiment was reversed by President Ford in October 1974, after a Senate committee report that expressed the majority’s distaste for DST in the winter and recommended a return to standard time.
The U.S. has since stuck to the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which established a system of uniform DST throughout the U.S. and its possessions, exempting only those states in which the legislatures voted to keep the entire state on standard time.
But the debate over DST is not over. The Senate has recently passed a bill to make DST permanent again, but its fate in the House and the White House is uncertain, as there are still debates and disagreements over the benefits and drawbacks of DST.
“The bill, called the Sunshine Protection Act, would make daylight saving time permanent across the country, eliminating the need to change clocks twice a year. The idea is to give Americans more sunlight in the evening, potentially boosting the economy, saving energy and improving public health,” wrote Newsweek.
But not everyone is a fan of the idea. Some critics argue that DST has negative effects on sleep quality, mental health, productivity and traffic safety. Others point out that DST does not benefit all regions equally, and that some areas, such as Alaska and Hawaii, would be better off without it.
“Daylight saving time is a relic of a bygone era that does not reflect the realities of modern society,” said Representative Ed Case, a Democrat from Hawaii, who introduced a bill to end DST nationwide.
What do you think? Do you prefer DST or standard time? Do you think the U.S. should make DST permanent or abolish it altogether? Let us know in the comments below.
– What Happened the Last Time the U.S. Tried to Make Daylight Saving Time Permanent?, Smithsonian Magazine, March 16, 2022
– The U.S. Tried Permanent Daylight Saving Time Before. Here’s What Happened, Time, March 17, 2022
– US temporarily tried year-round daylight saving time twice before, but never tried to make it permanent, VerifyThis, March 18, 2022
– Daylight Saving Time: The U.S. Has Tried It Before, and It Didn’t Go Well, Newsweek, March 16, 2022