Daylight saving time is here again, which means long summer days…and one less hour of sleep. Most of America will set their clocks forward one hour Sunday morning, March 12, at 2:00 a.m.; or just wake up a bit groggy to their phone alarm tomorrow morning after it “springs forward” automatically.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, daylight saving time runs from the second Sunday of March through the first Sunday of November. The USDOT began overseeing the transition in 1966 when Congress established the department.
All states except Hawaii, Arizona, and some of the territories observe the time change. For the quiz show aficionados out there, the Navajo Nation in Arizona does observe daylight saving time, however.
Over the past few years, pleas from social media to stay on daylight saving time year-round have slowly trickled down to state legislatures. In the past five years, over 30 states have introduced some form of DST legislation, either in local government or via their Congressional reps.
Like most aspect of government, the law gets tricky when a state wants to buck federal precedent. For example, Florida and California state lawmakers voted in 2018 to make daylight saving time permanent in their states. But the change still requires approval from the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the USDOT, federal law allows an individual state to skip DST (which no state would likely ever do), but not to make it permanent.
What are the origins of daylight saving time?
Many folks believe the time change began as a farmer’s practice, which may have some truth. But DST more clearly started from transportation and labor practices in the early 20th century. The Germans first adopted the practice in 1918 during WWI “to conserve fuel and power by extending daylight hours,” according to U.S. transportation records.
Americans say the value in the extra daylight and followed suit, first selling it as a war effort. After the war concluded, though, things gots messy. Some states dropped the practice altogether while some kept it. Mass confusion ensued, especially for the railroad industry which relies on logistics. Congress eventually nationalized the practice in 1966 — an era of massive government expansion.
The U.S. Department of Transportation was born, and one of its first orders of business was to codify the DST change “with dates for the twice-yearly transitions set by law.”
Now, despite the controversy surrounding daylight saving time’s effectiveness, fire safety groups use the change as an excuse to advocate for biannual smoke alarm testing. “Check ’em, change ’em” says the National Fire Protection Association of smoke detectors. And what better reminder to check than a built-in time change?