Earlier this year Legislators in New Hampshire discussed the idea of ending the twice-yearly practice of adjusting clocks by 1 hour to either begin or end Daylight Saving Time (DST). The measure passed the NH House but was killed in the Senate. The idea however has not died, and was even studied in depth in Massachusetts.
The Special Commission on the Commonwealth’s Time Zone recently published their official report which recommends a regional move to “year-round DST” while acknowledging “federal law only allows states to opt out of DST. But the state could effectively achieve that goal by moving from the Eastern Time Zone to the Atlantic Time Zone and then opting out of DST.”
Boston.com reports, “New England (and especially so Maine) is hundreds of miles farther east than other Eastern Standard Time cities, which is why it currently gets darker earlier in Boston than it does in, say, Buffalo, despite the latter being farther north.”
Not only does shifting New England to Atlantic Standard Time make sense from a standpoint of having more daylight later in the day; it also makes sense when one looks at the health related issues of manipulating time. The Boston Globe reports, “Recently, Swedish doctors looked at two decades of health data in their country to determine whether daylight saving time affected cardiovascular health. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, they found while heart attacks are reduced for one day in the fall following the clocks’ return to standard time, heart attacks increased for three days in the spring following the start of daylight saving time.”
The report from the Massachusetts Time Zone Commission adds, “people lose a significant amount of sleep in the days following the spring transition to DST, which leads to an increase in traffic fatalities and an increase in both the frequency and severity of on-the-job injuries…
A study that followed more than 23,000 children before and after the clocks changed found that more evening daylight correlated with a small, but meaningful, increase in their physical activity levels.”
Abolishing Daylight Saving Time would have significant health benefits, not to mention benefits of reduced crime from an additional hour of daylight in the evenings, and a shift in energy usage. Unfortunately for the people of New England who are working to effectively move to year-round DST, the decision ultimately is in the hands of the US federal government, which has a final say on any whether or not a state may change time zones. The federal government has only been legislating time for less than 100 years, isn’t it time to advocate for separation of time and state?