The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 28, 2013

George Hancock | Daylight saving time: What purpose?

George Hancock

— On March 10, daylight saving time (DST) begins. For many, it’s a welcome notion. But I abhor its arrival.

While we are granted more evening daylight, it places my early-morning running back on dark roads. Daylight running, for me, occurs only during May, June and July. 

Daylight saving time has an unusual history. Sadly, that history over the years has become steeped in mystery.

Many individuals accept the quaint notions attached to the DST concept: It is an energy-saving tool. It is a boon to our nation’s agricultural endeavors. It greatly reduces traffic fatalities.

But it is none of those, according to two books published in 2005: David Prerau’s “Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time,” and Michael Downing’s “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time.”

Following extensive research, both authors reached similar conclusions: DST does not save energy. The agricultural sector is strongly opposed to it. And strong evidence illustrates DST leads to more, not fewer, traffic collisions and fatalities.

Downing and Prerau say Americans like DST simply because it shifts our official clock hours. We “spring forward” and “fall back.” In early spring, it shifts that extra morning daylight to the evening hours, thus gaining more evening daylight.

“Although DST doesn’t actually add daylight, it does provide more usable hours of daylight,” Prerau wrote. Among the souls not benefiting are those early-morning runners like me.

DST is perhaps the ultimate example of government interference in our daily lives. Have the tea party denizens ever explored this scenario? This is Big Government at its worst. Big Brother controls the clock. The government tells us what time it is.

Actually, we have little to fear with this DST intrusion. It is not a prelude to government mind control. It provides something that most people appreciate: Longer evening daylight.

But how, and why, did DST originate? It was not a sinister ploy. The cost associated with it is minimal.

Downing and Prerau conclude the sole group behind it was the recreation industry. It recognized that lifestyles were changing with industrialization. Many people were no longer laboring tedious hours at arduous tasks. Time away from work grew. More people had more free time.

Daylight saving time gave people more evening daylight. Now, individuals could play golf and tennis, enjoy picnics, or take drives deeper into the evening. DST proved good for business.

However, modern folks encounter problems with DST. Our 24/7 world has created focus issues. Many people react poorly to the change. Their internal clocks need adjustment time. 

As an early-morning runner, I have a prime roadside view – a scary one. With DST, zombies are driving many vehicles I encounter.

It’s time to end DST. It serves no useful purpose. Standard time provides stability; it is real time.

And best of all, with year-round standard time, the zombies would disappear.

George A. Hancock of Scalp Level Borough is an occasional contributor to the editorial page.

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