Like Clockwork, State Legislators Move to End Daylight Saving Time

Most of the country lost an hour of sleep as clocks sprung forward Sunday, March 13 for daylight saving time. Some states are looking to opt out of the practice, insisting that the downsides outweigh the benefits.

California has a proposed bill that would ask voters to end the biannual clock changes, while legislators in Alaska and nearly a dozen other states are debating similar measures, reported the AP. Some legislators in New England want to go even further, withdrawing from the Eastern Time Zone and moving to Atlantic Standard Time with Puerto Rico.

"Once we spring forward, I don't want to fall back,” said Rhode Island state Rep. Blake Filippi, according to an AP report. Filippi said shifting to Atlantic Time and never changing back would effectively make summertime daylight saving hours permanent.

Daylight saving time gives us an extra hour of daylight in the evening and is intended to save energy, reduce traffic accidents and reduce crime, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Daylight saving time was enacted during World War I to save fuel, ended after only year, and was adopted again during World War II. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 mandates official dates to switch to and from daylight savings, but states can opt out. In 2007, the official dates of daylight saving time were amended under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, lengthening the duration of daylight time by about one month. Under that law, the time change begins at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and ends at 2 a.m. the first Sunday of November.

Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas do not observe daylight saving time.

It is unclear how much energy daylight saving time saves. In 2007, the California Energy Commission found a 0.2 percent savings, but the study had a margin of error of 1.5 percent. The U.S. Department of Energy has said that there is a 0.5 percent saving in electricity.

Critics argue that the productivity loss from tired workers costs more than what is saved in energy use. A study by David Wagner and Christopher Barnes, professors of management at the University of Oregon and University of Washington found workers “cyberloaf,” using computers for non-work purposes, at a substantially higher rate on the Monday after our clocks spring forward. We don’t regain lost productivity in the fall when time shifts back, according to Wagner and Barnes.

A recent estimate by Chmura Economics & Analytics put the cost to the American economy from the one hour clock shift and the resulting loss of sleep at over $434 million annually.