PINELLAS COUNTY - Daylight-saving time begins Sunday, March 8. Don’t forget to set clocks ahead one hour before going to bed on Saturday night.
Spring forward and fall back is an easy little saying to use to remember what to do during the semi-annual time changes.
It may be a little harder to remember whether the change means gaining or losing an hour of sleep.
Unfortunately, springing forward means losing an hour of precious down time, which is one of the arguments used by those who oppose the shifts in time. The argument isn’t so much about which is better - daylight-saving time or standard time - the issue is with the switch and the impact it has on people’s sleep cycles.
Research on the Internet shows that for the most part people don’t mind the change because daylight-saving time provides an extra hour before the sun goes down to enjoy outdoor activities during the spring and summer month’s when the weather is warm.
Since day-light saving time in the winter months, for most, means getting up before the sun rises and heading to work or school in the dark, people are happy to fall back to standard time. Plus there’s the added bonus of an extra hour of sleep..
Americans have been manipulating time since 1918 when Congress passed what is commonly known as the Standard Time Act.
The railroads are credited with fostering the notion of standardizing time to keep train schedules constant throughout the United States and Canada.
Benjamin Franklin can take credit or blame, depending on whether or not a person likes the changing, for the concept of daylight saving time. Franklin came up with the idea in 1794 when we was an American delegate in Paris and recorded his thoughts in an essay, “An Economical Project.”
It was many years before Franklin’s idea caught on. It is often said that invention is the mother of necessity. For daylight saving time, it was necessity that finally made governments take the concept seriously.
Daylight saving time was first put in use on a large-scale basis in the United States and several European counties during World War I due to the need to conserve fuel and electricity.
Congress included daylight saving time in the act that established standard time. Daylight saving time was first implemented on March 31, 1918. It was repealed in 1919 and became a local option.
The United States adopted the practice again during World War II, 1942 to 1945, when President Franklin Roosevelt instituted what he termed “war time.” Again, the purpose was to save energy.
Between 1945 and 1966, local option dictated whether or not states and cities manipulated time.
In 1974, President Richard Nixon brought back daylight saving time when he signed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act. Daylight saving time ran from January through October, and standard time the rest of the year.
In 1986, Congress amended the law, and daylight saving time was changed to start the first Sunday in April. It ended the last Sunday in October.
Time changed again in 2005 when Congress passed the Energy Policy Act that extended daylight saving time, moving the starting date to the second Sunday in March and the end date to the first Sunday in November.
Parents liked the latest change which moved the end date past Halloween, meaning children no longer had to trick-or-treat in the dark.
One of the major reasons lawmakers give for the continuation of time manipulation is energy conservation - although recent studies show that not as much energy is conserved as officials had once believed, and some even say more energy is used - thanks to all of the modern electronics in Americans homes.
The Web site www.webexhibits.org has some interesting stories about the impact daylight saving time has had through the years.
For example, during the years of the draft for the Vietnam War, men used what was called the daylight saving time loophole to obtain a higher draft number.
Another story involves terrorists and a time bomb that went off an hour early, thanks to the time change, killing the bad guys and saving the victims.
The story of the time change riots is particularly interesting. It seems the patrons of bars in Athens, Ohio get so distressed about losing an hour of drinking time, when the clocks are moved ahead, they are prone to creating disturbances and police are needed to preserve the peace.