That extra hour

It’s a tricky prospect, but we’d like to see daylight saving time extended year-round

If you are dragging this week, you’re not alone. On Sunday, March 10, Californians moved the clock’s hand forward an hour for daylight saving time (yes, “saving,” not savings, though the latter is the colloquial version).

Thing is, losing that hour of sleep isn’t just an annoyance. According to the National Safety Council, data show that automobile accidents spike by as much as 6 percent on the Monday afterward. Additionally, rates of heart attacks and workplace injuries increase in the days that follow the switchover. The springtime shift is particularly hard on senior citizens.

Daylight saving time was first enacted in the U.S. after World War I as a way to conserve coal. It was adopted in the Golden State in 1949. The idea was that the later the sunset, the less energy consumption in the home. But experts say that theory hasn’t panned out. In fact, since pushing the clock ahead an hour encourages more evening travel and entertainment, opponents say it results in greater energy usage. Still, supporters have a host of other arguments in favor of that extra hour of sunshine.

Then there are those who simply want the time fixed—either one way or the other. One option known as permanent daylight saving time, which calls for keeping the clocks forward year-round, is increasingly popular. Unfortunately, this plan would take federal approval. There’s an online petition with more than 80,000 signatures calling for that move, but it appears to be going nowhere.

That leaves only one other choice: getting rid of daylight saving time. States are allowed to do this. Arizona and Hawaii, for example, have opted out. In California, there’s some traction on an effort to nix it. Last month, Assemblyman Kevin Chu introduced a bill to do just that. Even if passed by the Legislature, the voters would have the final say.

Our preference, however, is permanent daylight saving time. According to studies, keeping that extra hour of light in the evening reduces crime, encourages healthy activities associated with outdoor recreation, and would allow working folks to drive home from their jobs when it’s light outside. Those are benefits worth the headache it would take for the feds to work with states to end this antiquated practice.