It’s difficult to justify the spring forward, fall back dance we do each year. And with clocks scheduled to be moved forward an hour this weekend, it’s a good time to remind everyone about the problems with the biannual time switching.
Most people would agree that “falling back” an hour in early fall feels pretty good, at least psychologically, for a couple of days. It’s almost like stealing an extra hour. But far fewer people like giving back that extra time when daylight saving time returns in the spring.
The 1966 federal Uniform Time Act allows states to stick to standard time all year — like Hawaii and Arizona already do — or request an exemption from Congress, which mainly applies to states that straddle time zones.
There are some encouraging efforts to end the annoying clock nonsense. South Carolina passed a law in 2020 to keep our state on daylight saving time permanently if Congress allows states to do that. As of October, we were among 19 states that had enacted similar legislation or resolutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Congress should take on the issue, which has had bipartisan support in these states.
There are pluses and minuses to both daylight saving time and standard time. We are less concerned about choosing one or the other than we are about achieving some consistency, because changing the clocks twice a year comes with problems.
For example, parents of young children have to adjust their kids’ sleep schedules, which can take some extra work. There is evidence that productivity suffers around these time changes, which costs the economy. There also is the mental adjustment to the time changes, and even some evidence that heart attacks and car accidents increase after time changes.
There doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason to continue the spring forward, fall back routine in our modern society.
One reason the issue has failed to gain much traction with Congress is that daylight saving time and standard time are things we tend to think about only twice a year. After a day or two, we adjust and move on to our routines.
But now that “spring forward” is upon us again, we would once again call on Congress to rid us of this annoyance we can, and should, do without.