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Location: Oaksterdam, California

Friday, April 08, 2005

Here Comes the Sun or A Hard Daylight Saving Time

Big Picnic has laid a great spread of posts lately. It's there I learnt that Congress to Expand Time:
It looks like Congress is contemplating extending daylight savings by two months. It appears to be a bi-partisan measure and I have to say, I'm on board too. I mean, who's against daylight?

I know it's a bit weird that Congress is worried about time when they seem waste so much of it. I hope they know what they're doing because most people are clueless about Daylight Saving Time, and I'm curious if those in Washington are any different.
Following the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, Congress put most of the nation on extended Daylight Saving Time for two years in hopes of saving additional energy. This experiment worked, but Congress did not continue the experiment in 1975 because of opposition -- mostly from the farming states.

In 1974, Daylight Saving Time lasted ten months and lasted for eight months in 1975, rather than the normal six months (then, May to October). The U.S. Department of Transportation -- which has jurisdiction over Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. -- studied the results of the experiment. It concluded:

Daylight Saving Time saves energy. Based on consumption figures for 1974 and 1975, The Department of Transportation says observing Daylight Saving Time in March and April saved the equivalent in energy of 10,000 barrels of oil each day -- a total of 600,000 barrels in each of those two years.

Daylight Saving Time saves lives and prevents traffic injuries. The earlier Daylight Saving Time allowed more people to travel home from work and school in daylight, which is much safer than darkness. And while there is an increase in the morning hazard for those going to school and work, it is more than compensated by the evening decrease. Even so, there was significant opposition to the very dark mornings and the increase morning accidents under DST in the months of November through February.

Daylight Saving Time prevents crime. Because people get home from work and school and complete more errands and chores in daylight, Daylight Saving Time also seems to reduce people's exposure to various crimes, which are more common in darkness than in light.

The Department of Transportation estimated that 50 lives were saved and about 2,000 injuries were prevented in March and April of the study years. The department also estimated that $28 million was saved in traffic accident costs.

There you have it. Energy conservation is considereed necessary until prices go down or some powerful lobby suggests otherwise....