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What is the Purpose of Daylight Savings Time?

Daylight Savings — the clock shift that happens twice a year — actually stirs up quite the controversy.

Today at 2 AM, the clock jumped forward an hour for Daylight Savings Time.

Daylight Savings Time (DST) is called “Summer Time” in many parts of the world. It is designed to add daylight to our evening hours. People who live near the equator — like residents of Arizona, for example — do not have use for DST, as their days and nights are nearly the same length already (12 hours).


The start of DST

The first concept of Daylight Savings Time came about with Benjamin Franklin, a founding father and renowned inventor.

“Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used.”

Germany was the first nation to implement “Summer Time” in the early 1900’s, and Britain followed them shortly after in 1916. There was strong opposition from the agricultural community, who wanted more daylight in the mornings as opposed to the evenings.

That opposition continues in certain communities today. Until 2006, the vast majority of Indiana counties did not observe Daylight Savings Time. Since it has been implemented, energy costs have increased by nearly $9 million a year, largely due to home air conditioning.

However, studies done by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that Daylight Savings Time generally conserves energy throughout the country. Overall, DST is proven to:

  • Decrease the use of electricity nationwide
  • Increase the use of energy in warmer climates (like Indiana)
  • Prevent automobile crashes

RAND Corporation economists studied U.S. automobile crash data going back to the 1986 Daylight Savings Time law, when DST was moved from the last Sunday in April to the first. This produced an 8 to 11 percent drop in vehicle / pedestrian crashes, and a 6 to 10 percent decrease in vehicular crashes.


Should we continue to use Daylight Savings Time?

Well, it depends who you ask.

Early risers like farmers tend to dislike it because of the loss of productivity in the morning. Furthermore, while DST can save energy in more temperate climates, in hotter states and countries it actually increases energy usage. But the majority of America operates on a 9 to 5 schedule, and the benefit of daylight in the evenings shows in the polls.

55% of Americans aren’t at all disrupted by DST, says this Princeton survey. 41% are a little disrupted, and 13% say it is a “major disruption.”

In fact, in every major survey done since 1937, the majority of Americans have been in favor of Daylight Savings Time. Though, many people did not want it year-round, and also opposed the extension of DST in 2007. There are also parents who advocate against it for the sake of their children.

This 2015 study reveals that, in the days following the DST shift, students lost an average of 32 minutes of sleep per night; adding up to three less hours of sleep in one week. Children and teenagers need more sleep than the average adult, and eight hours just doesn’t cut it. Loss of sleep leads to a reduction in focus, learning ability and negative mood changes.


Does Daylight Savings Time affect military time?

Military time is also known as the “24-hour clock.” It is simply another way to say what time is, and is still based in local time zones. In other words, YES, military time changes with Daylight Savings Time.

For example, if it is 2 PM PST, a soldier would report it as being 14:00, phonetically pronounced as “fourteen-hundred.” Here is an easy to read military time chart.

However, the military time zone referred to as “Zulu” does not change with Daylight Savings Time.

Zulu is short for “Zulu time” and is used frequently in the military, as well as civilian aviation. It is the same as UTC — Universal Time Coordinated, formerly called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and Universal Time (UT). UTC is a time standard that is used across the world, so it is synchronized at the same time everywhere.

UTC is determined by factors such as the Earth’s rotation, the length of a day on Earth, and highly precise time scales and atomic clocks worldwide.


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