Most Americans will be “falling back” this weekend as daylight-saving time takes its winter hiatus, but your computer, telephone and other programmable electronic devices may be a week ahead of you.
Texas and most of the rest of the nation reverts to standard time at 2 a.m. Sunday, seven days later than has been the schedule for decades. In 2005, Congress approved legislation as part of an energy bill extending daylight-saving saving time this year. In areas where state legislatures have not exempted themselves, clocks now move back one hour on the first Sunday of November and move forward one hour on the second Sunday of March.
The dates were standardized by Congress in 1966, setting the switch-overs on the last Sunday in April and the last Sunday in October. In 1986, the start date was moved back to the first Sunday in April, and it had remained on that schedule until this year.
Daylight-saving time decreases the amount of daylight in the morning hours so that more daylight is available during the evening. But not everyone benefits. Farmers and others who rise before dawn may have to operate in the dark a while longer before daybreak. Changing lifestyles were a factor, but it also proved to a fatal blow to driver-in movie theaters.
Daylight-saving time, however, can bring many benefits. Research has shown that more available daylight increases energy savings while decreasing the number of traffic accidents, traffic fatalities and incidences of crime. But the transition can be difficult, especially in the spring, when the first day lasts only 23 hours. Traffic accidents, for example, increase on that first Monday after the time change goes into effect.
Congress noted other advantages while updating legislation in 1986, including “more daylight outdoor playtime for the children and youth of our nation, greater utilization of parks and recreation areas, expanded economic opportunity through extension of daylight hours to peak shopping hours and through extension of domestic office hours to periods of greater overlap with the European Economic Community.”
Unfortunately, many electronic devices with clock-calendars — things like VCRs, telephone systems, computers and watches — that were manufactured before Congressional action in 2005 were programmed with the old daylight-saving time schedule. Those clocks “fell back” an hour last Sunday.
Owners who adjusted the time this week will need to change it again Sunday. Otherwise, you can let things run an hour late until the revised time change makes it right.
For detail-oriented folks, software patches exist to correct the schedule on many of these devices. But if that’s important to you, you probably handled it last spring.
If you didn’t, you may need to mark your new 2008 calendars with these dates: Daylight-time will begin on March 9 and end on Nov. 2.
That is, assuming Congress doesn’t change it again.