Sunday morning brought a recurrence of the dreary ritual in which we drag our weary, sleep-deprived selves through our households and duly change every clock, not to mention every device that features some sort of clock. The only good thing is that since we're switching this weekend from daylight saving time to standard time, we are "falling behind," so in theory we pick up an extra hour.
But it's a hollow victory: Come spring, we will lose that hour, and the evidence continues to mount that fooling around with time comes with a variety of potential safety and health issues. Just this week, for example, a transportation expert at Virginia Tech University reported that any time change can exacerbate drowsy driving. That means it will be especially important this week to pay attention to signs of drowsy driving such as slow eyelid closures, gentle swaying of the head and fidgeting in your seat.
Right now, though, you may be asking yourself this question: I thought our friends and neighbors in the Oregon Legislature did away with these time changes. Was I misinformed?
No. The Legislature did everything it could this session (how often can we say that?) when it passed Senate Bill 320, which is meant to establish year-round daylight saving time across the state. (The exception is Malheur County, which is in the Mountain time zone and which will continue changing its clocks so that it remains in sync with nearby Idaho.) Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill and Oregon proudly joined the list of states attempting to free themselves from the tyranny of these time changes.
Note that word, "attempting." The bill only goes into effect if the remainder of the West Coast endorses permanent daylight saving time — and, although legislation is pending in California, that state has yet to approve it. (Washington state already has endorsed remaining on daylight saving time.)
But there's another catch: Congress must authorize the change as well, and Congress seems, well, preoccupied with other matters these days.
Now, some of you may be objecting that two states, Hawaii and Arizona, have adopted permanent standard time. That raises the question: Why does Congress need to give its blessing for a state to move to permanent daylight saving time?
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Here's the answer: Because the law says so. It turns out that states are allowed to shift to permanent standard time. But it's against the law for states to unilaterally impose daylight saving time.
So it's back to slouching through the household this week, changing all the clocks. That's time you'll never get back. (But don't forget to check the batteries in your smoke detectors.)
Now, we have no serious objection to standard time — or, for that matter, to daylight saving time, although daylight saving time has been foisted upon us under generally false pretenses. The idea was that daylight saving time would save energy, but studies have shown that it has little effect on energy consumption.
But it's the twice-yearly time change that remains the big issue. A 2008 study found that time spent changing clocks costs the U.S. $1.7 billion in potential revenue. Other studies report that changing the clock affects our sleep cycle, presenting health and productivity risks. Tired workers still adjusting to the time change are more likely to slack off or to face workplace injuries, and a 2014 study found a 6.3% increase in fatal automobile accidents over the six days following the time switch.
The solution is simple: Choose either daylight or standard time (we prefer daylight, but could live with standard) and stick with it. No need to tinker with any clocks. Our bodies would thank us. We'd need to figure out another way to remind to check those smoke detectors, but we can get the Legislature to work on that.
— Corvallis Gazette Times