At this time of year, the days here in South Carolina and everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere are about as long as they get. But that’s a perfectly appropriate time to think about ditching that biannual switch to and from daylight saving time.
“Falling back” an hour in November is kind of nice, at least for a day or to. Far fewer people enjoy having an hour stolen to “spring forward” in March. Almost everyone can agree that the entire ordeal is an unnecessary hassle.
So it’s encouraging that efforts in the state Legislature are still moving forward to keep South Carolina on daylight saving time year-round. For reference, that’s the schedule we’re on right now. We switch back to standard time in the fall.
Legislation passed the state Senate unanimously in March and got an overwhelmingly favorable vote in the House last week. That’s an encouragingly bipartisan response.
The South Carolina bill being considered wouldn’t make that change official just yet. It simply notifies Congress that the state would stop changing its clocks twice a year if federal lawmakers gave it the option.
About two-thirds of states considered similar measures this year — to notably mixed results — according to a recent report in The Hill. At least one bill in Congress would put the whole country on daylight saving time.
Under the 1966 federal Uniform Time Act, states can opt to stick to standard time all year — like Hawaii and Arizona have long done — or can ask Congress for an exemption, which mostly applies to states that straddle time zones.
So South Carolina could roll back the clock by an hour and stay on that schedule all year, but it can’t choose to stay on daylight saving time without special permission or a change to federal law.
Frankly, we’re less concerned about choosing whether we stay on daylight saving time or standard time — there are pros and cons to both — than we are about finding some consistency. Because while there are compelling arguments in favor of keeping that “extra” hour of daylight in the morning or in the afternoon, there is broad consensus that switching twice a year is problematic.
Parents of young kids have to work extra hard to readjust toddler sleep schedules. Traffic accidents increase when commuters are suddenly in the dark. Lost productivity costs the economy. Seasonal depression goes into overdrive. There’s even some evidence that heart attacks spike after time changes.
It’s a mess, and there’s really not much reasonable, data-backed justification for switching back and forth in modern society.
The problem is that daylight saving time and standard time are also things we usually only think about twice a year. The headaches mostly fade after a day or two and we go back to our routines, day or night.
But why deal with a frustrating, unhealthy and potentially even dangerous hassle twice a year when there’s such an obvious solution? Pick a time and stick to it.