This Sunday, 97 percent of Americans will be forced to change their clocks once again, “springing forward” an hour into daylight saving time (DST). The process of having to reset our clocks is an irritatingly outdated practice that we should ditch. We should instead embrace DST as a critically important way to realign daylight time to Americans’ most productive hours, while also improving public health and the American economy.
Thankfully, we have a solution. Our “Sunshine Protection Act” would shift the United States to permanent DST year-round, eliminating the need to worry about changing clocks in November and March. The bill, which has 12 bipartisan cosponsors, awaits action before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which has authority over the Uniform Time Act.
Standardizing DST wouldn’t entail some massive change, nor would it overturn some profound legacy in American history. Originally conceived in 1916 as a wartime effort to conserve fuel in Germany, daylight saving time actually has a varied history in our nation. It only lasted half the year for most of its implementation until 2005, when it was extended to the current eight months. Yes, we endure the hassle of changing our clocks to spend 16 weeks – 33 percent of the year – on Standard Time.
Research sheds light on the significant health benefits of extending DST for the entire year. By recalibrating the portion of the day spent in sunlight to standard work hours, studies suggest that we would see advantages to Americans’ public health, including reduced risks of seasonal depression, cardiac problems and strokes. Children exercise more during DST, and adults spend substantially more time engaged in pedestrian, cycling and other recreational activities.
Similarly, year-round DST would boost public safety. A Brookings study suggests it would bring a 27 percent reduction in robberies committed during the evening hour of gained sunlight, with the overall daily rate dropping by 7 percent. Another group of researchers found permanent DST could also result in fewer car accidents, reducing the rate of vehicle collisions with wildlife as traffic patterns shift an hour away from nocturnal animal behavior.
Extending DST to last the entire year would also spur the economy. A JP Morgan Chase study found that Americans experience decreased economic activity while not on DST, a drop that could be avoided by making daylight saving permanent. It would also benefit our nation’s agricultural sector, which ends up disproportionately affected twice a year through disruptions between farmers’ schedules and their supply chain partners. Several studies also suggest that it would lead to greater energy savings.
Our bill isn’t radical. Despite the significant economic and health benefits, the Sunshine Protection Act doesn’t alter time zones, change the total number of hours of sunlight per day, or mandate that states and territories that do not observe DST suddenly be forced to join. Instead, it represents a commonsense solution – one supported by states as varied as Maine, Florida, California, Tennessee, South Carolina, Delaware, Oregon and Washington, and under consideration by dozens more, including Mississippi.
Inconveniencing hundreds of millions of Americans to continue changing our clocks for 16 dark weeks is antiquated and outdated. With such clear advantages to year-round DST, Congress has no excuse to remain in the dark on the issue. Join us, and help #LocktheClock.
Cindy Hyde-Smith has represented Mississippi as a Republican in the United States Senate since 2018.