Permanent daylight saving time? What would it mean?

A Florida senator has filed a bill that would make daylight saving time permanent. Meteorologist Charles Roop talks about the science and what it would mean.
Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 6:55 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - If a bipartisan group of U.S. senators have their way, the days of being dazed and confused for days after a shift to daylight saving time would be over.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) refiled the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, according to a press release issued March 9. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) was listed as a co-sponsor along with other Democratic and Republican members of the senate.

If passed into law, the bill would make daylight saving time permanent in the states that already participate in DST, according to the release. That would also mean there would be no more one-hour shifts in the time every few months.

Supporters of the change argue that there would be fewer vehicle-related accidents. Some studies (such as this one) found an increase in fatal accidents following the change to DST. Another study released in 2020 looked at accident data between 1996 and 2016, and found that there was 6% increase in fatal accidents after the change to DST. The highest risk was in the morning with the possible culprit being the lack of sleep. The 2020 study’s authors suggested that “abolishing time changes completely” would improve overall health and decrease accident risk.

Studies have found that found turning the clocks back an hour also leads to depression, and can also lead to strokes.

With respect to saving energy consumption, does a change to daylight saving time help save money? Rubio’s release said that there were “savings of about 0.5 percent in electricity per day.” Overall, studies haven’t shown much savings, or never saved money at all. For instance, researchers found that Indiana used more electric during DST because of the higher demand of heating and cooling. The Indiana study also found that the higher energy usage released more than 188,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which would not help the fight against human-induced climate change. One caveat: Indiana isn’t everywhere, and energy demands can vary by state.

If the bill became law, there would be a noticeable difference with sunset and sunrise times in the cooler months. For instance, sunrise in Tallahassee would be as late as 8:30 a.m. instead of 7:30. Sunset would be at 6:40 p.m. instead of 5:40 at the earliest. This would mean more daylight in the evenings, but not so much for the ride to school and work.

The Society for Research on Biological Rhythms is a group that has advocated going to a permanent standard time instead of DST. They claim that the later daylight in the winter months would impact the body’s natural clock, and would eventually push the sleep time later in the night. The sleeplessness would also impact physical and mental health, they said.

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