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Sunday, March 11, 2018
The idea of Daylight Saving Time dates back to the 18th century and has been inconsistently observed since World War One.
Ben Franklin is the first to be attributed with the idea of Daylight Saving Time. The founding father, while living in Paris, wrote that the sun was rising earlier than usual, according to Dr. David Prerau, Daylight Saving Time expert and author of Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time.
Franklin imagined how many candles could be saved if people were rising with the sun each morning.
And thus, the idea that daylight saving time could save energy was born.
More than 100 years later, British builder, William Willett also felt that people were missing the best part of the day as the sun was rising earlier than usual. He introduced the concept of moving the clocks forward during the summer months to ensure longer days. Willet fought to introduce DST to the U.K. but did not see the concept come to life before he died.
During World War I, the Start Time Act was passed and established time zones and incorporated DST into federal law. Due to the war, it was important to conserve materials for the war effort, and law enforcers believed that longer daytime hours would limit the number of tasks that would need to be completed at night.
Following the conclusion of World War I, Daylight Saving Time was revoked until World War II. It was referred to as “War Time” and spanned from February until September.
After World War II, it was up to a locality's discretion as to whether they would observe Daylight Saving Time or not. The non-uniform DST led to mass confusion and miscommunication, especially among transportation services.
In 1966, the Uniform Time Act was passed and gave states the option to forego DST observation if they passed proper ordinances.
Since then, some states have chosen to opt out of observing while others continue to observe DST.
“Historically, it’s used to save energy. It reduces traffic accidents, and it benefits public health,” Prerau said. “People are more likely to go outdoors when it’s light out; it increases productivity.”
Prerau also noted that studies show Daylight Saving Time decreases crime rates; people are more likely to commit outdoor crimes in the hour after sunset rather than the hour before sunrise.
“People should ask themselves, is the unpleasantness of losing an hour sleep and changing your clocks and having some negative affects the first day or two more important than the benefit of having an extra hour of daylight for 8 months and reducing traffic accidents, crime and energy use?” Prerau prompted.
Although the length of Daylight Saving Time has changed three times since the 1960s, it appears the practice is here to stay.