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My Turn 3-12
Is it time to dump DST?
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Did you remember to “spring forward” last night or this morning? If not, chances are you were a tad tardy for whatever worship service, if any, you normally attend on Sunday. Even agnostics and atheists can suffer from circadian discomfort, caused by Daylight Saving Time.
So why do we tinker with the hands of time twice a year? Because “spring forward” and “fall back” are time-honored (no pun intended) traditions in the USA and beyond.
Attentive Americans remembered to “spring forward” one hour in each time zone this year on March 12, just as we remembered to “fall back” last November. Technically, those time changes occur at 2 a.m. local time. Practically though, most of us reset our clocks and watches before we go to bed the night before. Only an idiot, insomniac or a masochist would wait until the wee hours of morning to do so, just to be “technically correct.”
As I understand it, the purported purpose of these biannual time shifts is to transfer, in effect, one hour’s worth of daylight from the early morning hours of the day, when only early risers and roosters are awake to appreciate it, then use it to push back sunset until one hour later in the evening.
The rationale (or rationalization) for tinkering with time in this way is, in part, to cut electricity usage in the evening, help reduce traffic accidents, especially among truck drivers and commuters, and give farmers an extra hour of daylight before twilight time. However, the skeptic in me questions its worth. What about the dangers of darkness in the early morning?
I’m not the only “doubting Thomas” on the issue of DST. The concept was controversial when it was formally adopted in the USA in 1918. It turned out to be so unpopular, it was abandoned in 1919. However, It rose from its ashes during World War II as “War Time,” observed year-round from 1942-1945. When the war ended, so did “War Time.”
From 1945 to 1966, there was no such thing as a national DST. Instead, states and localities were virtually free to use it, how and when they wanted to -- or not at all. This laissez-faire poicy on DST created a chronological “Tower of Babel,” especially for airlines, buses, trains, and media networks with strict time schedules that transcended states and regions.
After essentially ignoring the problem for two decades, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966. Other acts and amendments followed in 1973 and 1986. In 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, which changed both “spring forward” and “fall back” schedules to their cur-rent dates, stating in 2007.
So far, Hawaii and most of Arizona are the only two U.S. states that don’t use DST. However, at least 16 more states, from Maine to California, are considering scrapping DST. Based on my many interviews with people from various walks of life around Middle Tennessee, I think it’s time for Tennessee lawmakers to seriously consider dumping DST.
Whether you agree with me or not, voice your views to our state legislators. I know I will.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at