Saving daylight, one hour at a time

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    By Anna Newman

    Sunday at 2 a.m. it was once again time: time to lose an hour of sleep, time to see sunlight at new hours of the day, time for Daylight Saving across the country.

    For those of you who were late this morning, try setting your clock an hour ahead. For those of you looking for someone to blame for your loss of sleep, take your pick.

    Daylight Saving Time has been used in the United States and Europe since World War I as an effort to conserve fuel needed to produce electricity said Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Mosley. Evolving over time, Presidents Roosevelt, Nixon and Johnson all made time-keeping legislation. Congress didn?t set the official dates we use today until 1987, starting the time change the first Sunday in April and ending it the last Sunday in October.

    As the authority on time zone boundaries, the DOT produces a Daylight Saving Time reminder notice twice a year. However, its involvement more or less stops there, Mosley said, as enforcement is not exactly a concern.

    ?We like to use the saying ?spring ahead, fall back? to remember the time change,? Mosley said. ?We also recommend people use this time as a reminder to change the batteries in their smoke detectors.?

    But do not be thrown off by the fact the federal government implemented the time change ? participation is purely optional for states. Arizona, Hawaii, and even parts of Indiana all keep their clocks ticking without any changes year-round.

    ?Daylight Savings is always a pain,? said Allison Pobst, a Phoenix native and elementary education major. ?When I moved to Utah I just thought, ?What is this?? It simplifies your life not having to worry about it, but then when you?re in Arizona you have to try to remember where the rest of the country is at. If it made a big difference I?d say it?s worthwhile, but I really don?t think it does.?

    For the other 47-and-a-half states, Utah included, the DOT offers evidence in a 1975 study that the increased daylight results in reduced electricity usage, traffic accidents and crime. In 2001, California representatives even petitioned Congress to add an extra hour to the change in their sunny state, but not without some disapproval.

    ?There have been dramatic changes in lifestyle and commerce since we completed our studies,? said DOT official Linda Lawson in her testimony before the House Science Committee. ??Time observance affects almost every aspect of life and any proposed time change will have many consequences beyond any impacts on energy conservation. Any change needs to be carefully and fully considered at a national level after consultation with all the affected constituencies.?

    Until that time comes, however, we can rest easy knowing that while we had to ?spring forward? for yet another year in seven months we can ?fall back? and sleep in that extra hour.

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