Daylight Saving Time Is Almost Here And Its Turning 100 Years Old

Daylight Saving Time Is Almost Here And Its Turning 100 Years Old

It survived the Great Depression, World War II, and endless gnashing of teeth about its good and bad points, and this month celebrates its 100th birthday here in the U.S.

Daylight saving time, which starts its annual eight-month run at 2 a.m. Sunday, was first enacted by the federal government March 19, 1918, during World War I, as a way to conserve coal. 

And though it was halted nationally later that year, it persisted in some form at local or state levels for decades before being finally being officially recognized again nationally in 1966 by the Uniform Time Act.

To many a minor annoyance or a bit of relief, daylight saving time reminds us of the sun's daily effect on our lives and tells us spring is on its way. 

Who's in charge of time?

Surprisingly, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is in charge of daylight saving time and all time zones in the U.S. 

"The oversight of time zones was assigned to DOT because time standards are important for many modes of transportation," according to the department's website.

The DOT says daylight saving is observed because it saves energy, saves lives by preventing traffic accidents and also reduces crime. 

The agency boasts people tend to spend more time outside during daylight saving time, meaning they run household appliances and lights less during those eight months. Also, the DOT said it prevents traffic incidents because people are driving around more during the light hours. It also is a crime deterrent, DOT claims, because people are out during the daylight and not at night, "when more crime occurs," the agency states.

In 2007, the federal government expanded daylight saving time in order to reduce energy consumption. Daylight saving time now accounts for about 65% of the year.

More: Florida House approves push for Daylight Saving Time

States have the final say on daylight saving

However, not everyone agrees it offers energy-saving benefits. Some studies claim the time switch saves energy on lighting but is surpassed by usage increases for heating and air-conditioning. 

Whether or not to observe daylight saving time is purely a state matter, so how a state determines that — through law, resolution, or executive order — is up to them. The state would just need to let the Department — and the rest of the world — know they no longer observe DST, if that is the decision.

Hawaii and most of Arizona don't take part in daylight saving time. Arizona, which receives ample sunlight, opted out in 1968. However, certain Native American reservations in Arizona still participate. Other non-observers are American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Florida wants to be first state with year-round DST

While those states and territories have given DST the heave-ho, a movement aimed at throwing a little more sunlight onto cold winter days is slowly gaining traction across the nation. Twenty-six states considered making DST permanent last year, according to Time Zone, a group tracking and promoting the effort.

However, while ditching daylight saving involves a state merely notifying the Department of Transportation, enacting it year-round is a more involved procedure, including approval by Congress. A state can not “permanently” stay on DST under current federal law, the DOT said.  

Florida could become the first state to choose to stay on daylight saving year-round under a proposal working its way through its Legislature.

More: State lawmakers want to make Daylight Saving Time permanent, others also want one time zone

Florida state Sen. Greg Steube, a Republican, is behind the "Sunshine Protection Act of 2018," which would put an end to the twice-a-year routine of moving the clock either an hour ahead or an hour behind. Steube thinks if Florida takes a stand, the idea will spread across the nation.

Folks in the Panhandle of the state balked at the idea of making the state all in Eastern time as had been first proposed. As of now, Florida would continue to be in two time zones, with the majority of the state in Eastern time and a small portion of the panhandle in Central time. 

Others see daylight saving time as a moment to check on some household duties that have fallen by the wayside. Many fire departments suggest people check their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when they adjust their clocks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises people have their vehicles checked for safety recalls around DST.

If the late sunlight isn't your thing, the clocks turn forward at 2 a.m. March 11th.

Contributing: Sean Rossman and John Bacon, USA TODAY; James Call, Tallahassee Democrat

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Dated: March 8th 2018
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