Blog Post #269:  Daylight savings time

Today marks the first day of Daylight Savings Time in the United States.  

I do remember the lack of standard DST growing up.  I lived in Cedar Rapids Iowa – a town that observed daylight savings; my cousins lived in Maquoketa Iowa – a farm town that did not observe daylight savings.  I was going to Maquoketa for a week and I reset my wristwatch to the Maquoketa time (that is – non daylight savings).

Time standardization can largely be attributed to railroads.  Communities had sundials or some mechanism to determine when the sun was directly overhead – which became noon.  So, Chicago and Lincoln Nebraska are both in the Central Time district in the United States but the sun time (noon with the sun directly overhead) would come sooner in Chicago than in Lincoln.  Now trains running from Chicago to (say) Denver had a time table. If (considering stops and speed) it took six hours from Chicago to Lincoln, and the train left Chicago at 12:00 noon; it would be 6:00 p.m. when it got to Lincoln.  But, it might be that Lincoln, using suntime, would be 5:45 or so. The railroads standardized the time and the time zones.

But, back to daylight savings time.  I am a proponent of DST. I’m writing this about 8:00 p.m. and it is dark in central Texas.  Even in mid summer (say June 21st), by 8:00 it is getting dark in Austin. But, what if I want to mow my lawn after work, or play gold or go fishing.  By adjusting the clock reading so that sun time of 8:00 p.m. becomes daylight savings time of 9:00 p.m. I can mow my lawn (or golf or fish) later. If I am working, so I get up and it might be still dark or just beginning to lighten up for the day.  That’s okay as long as after work I get that extra time for me – time to take a walk in the light.

The biggest hassle seems to come with schools.  If daylight savings was year around, school buses would be picking up kids in the dark.  

I did find some quotes for (and against) daylight savings time:

  • From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (of Sherlock Holmes novels): “It seems very strange … that in the course of the world’s history so obvious an improvement should never have been adopted. … The next generation of Britishers would be the better for having had this extra hour of daylight in their childhood.
  • Benjamin Franklin: “I say it is impossible that so sensible a people [citizens of Paris], under such circumstances, should have lived so long by the smoky, unwholesome, and enormously expensive light of candles, if they had really known that they might have had as much pure light of the sun for nothing.”
  • From Victor Borge: “I don’t mind going back to daylight saving time. With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I’ve saved all year.

My computer will automatically adapt to the new time.  I will have to change a few clocks, my watch and the car dashboard time.  For more sunlight into the evening, I’m very willing to do that!

And … a small riddle.  What is the safest hour to live in the United States?  Fewest admissions to the emergency room, fewest traffic accidents, and fewest deaths?  Answer:  two to three a.m. on Daylight Savings Sunday – the few statistics come from Arizona and Hawaii that don’t observe DST!!!

What do you think?

Let me know at:

Have a great day!!



Posted by Bruce White

Leave a Reply