Tomorrow is the day sleep lovers wait all year for—the end of daylight saving time means a one-hour rollback on the clocks and a precious extra hour of slumber.
Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6. As you set your clocks back one hour, here are five facts about daylight saving time to ponder.
1. Daylight saving time helps farmers. No, children walking to school. Make that people who like to spend summer evenings outdoors. Opinions abound about why daylight saving time started, but in truth, it comes down to energy savings—alleged energy savings, actually. The idea is that by adjusting the clock, we take advantage of natural sunlight and cut energy consumption. Benjamin Franklin even pointed out potential candle consumption savings when he satirically suggested a form of daylight saving time for those partying Parisians in the 18th century.
But actually energy savings are negligible and the extended daylight saving time, started in 2007, has even increased consumption in some areas of the country. A 2008 Department of Energy report showed just a 0.03 percent of electricity savings and 0.02 percent of primary energy savings compared with previous year. Traffic volume and gasoline savings didn’t budge.
2. Daylight saving time has never been a straightforward process in the United States and the law has changed several times. We had it during World War I, then Congress ended the unpopular practice. Known as “War Time,” the country observed year-round daylight saving time from Feb. 9, 1942 to Sept. 30, 1945. The first non-war federal regulations were instituted in 1966. Another year-round daylight saving time came in 1974-75 in response to the country’s energy crisis.
Today, states can opt out of observing daylight saving time. Parts of Indiana ended their hold out in 2006. Hawaii and Arizona still opt out—except for the areas of the Navajo Nation in Arizona. We told you it wasn’t straightforward.
3. The U.S. Department of Transportation is in charge of enforcing daylight saving time. Consider it a little newcomer federal department hazing. The DOT was created in 1966, the same year the somewhat controversial Uniform Time Act of 1966 that set federal rules for daylight saving time was enacted.
4. Driving on Sunday? Beware, the time change could mean more road accidents. Allow us to explain. Some researchers have found a correlation between the seasonal time changes and an increase in fatal car accidents (and still other studies have found no connection). A 2001 study in Sleep Medicine said fatal accidents in the U.S. increased by a small, but definite percentage on the Sunday daylight saving time ends compared with other days of the week. The study authors pinned it to an extra-long day on Sunday and possible extra alcohol consumption into early Sunday morning. Speaking of which …
5. Some bars with 2 a.m. last calls take the opportunity for an extra hour of imbibing when daylight saving time ends. If you want to use the extra hour to patronize your favorite watering hole, we recommend calling ahead to double check on last call—and finding a designated driver.