The U.S. Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would end that old holdover from our more agricultural past, Daylight Savings Time. While the benefits of DST are hotly debated, one thing is clear: The practice leads to an increase in all sorts of injuries and deaths, including an increase in fatal car crashes.
The bill has an uncertain future in the House, but considering it was met with applause, cheers and passionate speeches in the Senate, its chances look good. Called the Sunshine Protection Act, the bill was introduced seemingly on a disgruntled whim, with almost no warning or debate, according to the New York Times:
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, rose on the Senate floor on Tuesday to speak in favor of his bill, called the Sunshine Protection Act, which would end the practice of turning clocks back one hour to standard time every November, making daylight saving time, which currently begins in March, last throughout the year.“One has to ask themselves after a while: Why do we keep doing it?” Mr. Rubio said, adding, “The majority of the American people’s preference is just to stop the back-and-forth changing.”
When he moved for the bill to pass by unanimous consent, not a single senator objected. But some audibly celebrated.
“Yes!” exclaimed Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, who flashed a big smile and clenched both her fists in triumph as she presided over the chamber.
The best legislation is written by a bleary-eyed lawmaker who is just absolutely sick of This Shit. Seriously, in these divided times, it’s almost heartwarming to see the Senate act with such unity. It does leave me with the confusing feeling of agreeing with Marco Rubio on something, but I’ll take it.
A study out of the University of Colorado in 2020 found that our annual spring forward leads to a six percent increase in car crashes for a whole week afterwards. From Healthline:
The researchers looked at 732,835 car accidents recorded through the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System that took place between 1996 and 2017.
The researchers discovered a consistent rise in fatal car crashes during the week we “spring forward.”
That increase spiked in 2007 when the Energy Policy Act switched the DST change to March from April, further solidifying the link between car crashes and daylight saving.
On average, the time change causes a 6 percent increase in fatal car accidents in the week following the spring DST transition, which amounts to about 28 additional deaths each year.
“Our findings are in line with more general research showing that the ‘mini jetlag’ caused by the 1-hour loss due to DST is most severe in the first days after transition, and can be observed up to 2 weeks,” study co-author Josef Fritz, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow with the circadian and sleep epidemiology lab at University of Colorado, Boulder, told Healthline.
A week of mini-jet lags sounds like a pretty awful way to live when you put it like that. It certainly wouldn’t be good to drive around like that.
And it’s not just car crashes that go up. Everything from strokes to workplace accidents rise for the week or so following DST. It’s wild that changing our habits only by an hour can have such an affect on our ability to operate and concentrate, but we are definitely creatures of habit. Experts recommend getting a lot of rest before the change, but why should we prepare our bodies for some archaic ritual that seemed like it was a good idea way back in 1918?
Do the right thing America. Save some lives by giving up on Daylight Savings Time.