The sun is about to set on another season of Daylight Saving Time. In case you hadn't noticed, Daylight Saving Time (DST) began earlier last spring and ran longer into this fall. But, alas, all good things must come to an end...and this year Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, November 2nd.
The extra month that we enjoyed was actually the result of the Energy Policy Act, which was enacted by Congress back in 2005 and first went into effect last year. Originally, the bill was written to extend Daylight Saving by two months, but some very verbal opponents fought the change. Farmers say that DST has a negative impact on their livestock in general--as it is tough for them to adapt to the time change, and they consequently produce less milk, eggs, etc. Because DST is not followed uniformly around the world, airlines claim that it might mean many missed international flight connections. Additionally, TV and Cable stations argued that they would lose viewers and advertising revenue, simply due to less time spent in front of the television because of more time spent outdoors in daylight.
So a compromise of one additional month of DST was reached. However, Congress did retain the right to revert back to the old dates if the change proves to be widely unpopular, or if the energy savings aren't significant.
Why is Daylight Saving Time Longer?
Despite the concerns listed above, Americans overwhelmingly like Daylight Saving Time. There is simply more sunlight in the evenings to enjoy the outdoors and get things done. Additionally, there may be emotional benefits, as we typically feel better with more daylight.
Plus, additional hours of daylight can help save energy on a national scale. Less electricity is needed, as fewer lights are turned on as early in the evening...and with energy costs so high, even a small amount of savings is very welcome.
And brighter is safer - studies have shown that the DST shift reduces traffic accidents. An increase in accidents in the dark mornings is more than offset by the evening decrease in accidents, due to the increased visibility gained with more sunlight. Halloween is also arguably safer. Child pedestrian deaths are four times higher on Halloween than any other night of the year. By extending Daylight Saving Time, however, trick-or-treaters are able to spend an extra hour gathering treats while it's still light out. Candy manufacturers are happy too, as they've lobbied for years to have DST extended through Halloween.
A study by the US Law Enforcement Admin also determined that crime is consistently lower during DST, with violent crimes down as much as 10% to 13%. For many crimes, like mugging, darkness is a factor--so more light in the evening hours reduces these types of crimes.
Falling Back... Manually
Since DST has been extended, you'll want to double-check all of your electronic devices and confirm that the time is correct. Although you may be accustomed to your computer and maybe even your digital clock in your car automatically updating, the recent change of dates for Daylight Saving Time may require that these devices be manually changed, as they now may NOT be ready to update to the correct time on the correct date!
So keep an eye on your electronic devices and remember to change your clocks on Sunday, November 2nd as we turn back the hands of time once again!