Staff Editorial – Daylight Savings Time change reignites universal debate

After a unanimous decision made by the Senate, the bill to make Daylight Savings Time permanent has been passed to the House of Representatives for further approval.

The practice of setting our clocks an hour ahead on the second Sunday of every March is not a new one. Originally proposed in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin, its purpose was to give people an extra hour of sunlight later in the day after work. However, coming at the cost of darker mornings, and with only a minority of the world’s population using it three centuries later, there has been constant discussion and questioning about its implementation.

If the United States makes Daylight Savings Time permanent, starting November 2023, our clocks will remain set an hour ahead year-round. Conforming to this established time as a nation is not without its drawbacks – the time change can often mess up international travel and recordkeeping – but its largest issue is rooted during the winter, where the morning darkness is almost overbearing in its duration. 

This is not the first time the United States has made Daylight Savings Time permanent. After just eight months, increased car accidents before sunrise, and thousands of complaints of students going to school in the dark as well as work commutes being shrouded in darkness, the United States reverted to standard time in the fall of 1974. 

Which begs the question, why try to make Daylight Savings Time permanent again?

Experts disagree on its implementation, but there is a near-universal understanding that sunlight increases productivity and that the lack of sunlight during the bleak winter months is a cause for seasonal depression in many. Pushing the clocks ahead would allow for this productivity in the summer, and would, in turn, decrease the risk of seasonal depression. In addition, this productivity would cause economic benefits and decreased energy consumption.

Those in favor of keeping the time are campaigning hard to preserve this productivity. But those against the permanent time change are citing historical examples, such as the United Kingdom’s time change in 1971, where the change failed to deliver on its promises of decreased depression rates and only prolonged the monotony of the winter months.

While we might resent those first couple of weeks for forcing us to drive to school in the dark, researching this issue proves that there is more history behind this new schedule than meets the eye. From a supposed boost to the economy to seasonal depression rates fluctuating, there is still much discussion to be had about how this implementation will affect day-to-day life. And although we might not be directly influencing the decisions, like any current issue, there is no downside to staying educated about the topic.