I accept as a challenge articles titled “10 things you didn’t know about…” whatever the topic. Who is “USA Today” to proclaim there are “10 things I didn’t know about daylight saving time”?
That reminds me. The older I get, the more daunting becomes the chore of changing all the clocks around the house. That’s been true for several years, but lately, it’s become especially aggravating.
That turned out to be the ninth point in the “USA Today” article. It reads, “Adults age 65 and older may struggle with the time change more than others.”
See? I knew one of the 10 things without even reading the story.
The article goes on with nine other points, some of which I already knew. Others, however, were indeed things that were news to me.
After 40 years of newspapering, I already knew it’s “daylight saving time,” with no capital letters and no “s” after the word “saving.” But our English language is fluid. The previously required hyphen between “daylight” and “saving” was dropped in recent years.
No surprise either is that Arizona and Hawaii don’t observe the time change, but I wasn’t aware they are the only states. I missed that since 2006, by law, all of Indiana now observes it. Other non-observers include American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Be advised if one of those is your summer vacation destination.
Neither did I know that 26 states are considering measures that would observe daylight saving time year-round. I did recall that during the energy crisis of the 1970s, the entire county went on daylight saving for a period of time. But I didn’t remember the dates, which were January 1974 through April 1975.
With so much complaining heard about having to change the hour of the day, and about losing an hour of sleep this weekend every year, I was surprised to read an article in Popular Mechanics defending the practice. I was surprised because I didn’t know Popular Mechanics was still be published.
It comes as no surprise that sun lovers enjoy the extra daylight. We like daylight saving time. You don’t see any states trying to copy Arizona and Hawaii. We just don’t like the transitions.
The argument in favor of “springing forward” is rather strong for many reasons, says Popular Mechanics.
While sleepy drivers do cause more accidents on the Monday after the time change each spring, statistics show that driving in daylight is safer overall than at night. Recreational businesses benefit from more sunlight in the evening. However, those benefits are somewhat offset by negative effects on farmers and for entertainment providers like movies and television that rely on people staying inside in the evenings.
Perhaps the greatest benefit to society during daylight saving is a decrease in crime. Popular Mechanics cited a Brookings Institute paper that found a 7 percent drop after the time changes, probably because more crimes are committed at night. True, the summer season already provides additional hours of daylight anyway, but at least people are less likely to be in harm’s way when they can stay out in the daylight an hour longer.
Regardless of which side of age 65 you may be, it seems most of us appreciate the extra hour of daylight. Again, the transition is what’s problematic.
Daylight saving returns on Sunday, and we must cope once again. Happy springing forward this weekend.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.