Congress weighs benefits, costs of Daylight Saving Time

It happens again this weekend – most of us will turn our clocks ahead one hour for Daylight Saving Time (DST).

All 50 states except for Arizona and Hawaii observe DST, which was first put in place in 1918.

It’s a practice that has people divided over whether it’s worth it today.

“History shows that Daylight Saving Time has benefits and costs,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).The growing public interest in this topic and action on the state level brings us here today.”

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Members of Congress heard from people on both sides of the debate.

Those who support DST argued it reduces car accidents and crime and can save on energy costs.

“Permanent Daylight Saving Time will save lives,” said Steve Calandrillo, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law. “Darkness kills and sunshine saves.”

Business owners said the extra hour of evening daylight is better for business.

“The bottom line is Daylight Saving Time is good for business and commerce across the United States,” said Lyle Beckwith with the National Association of Convenience Stores. “People feel as though they have more time after work to engage in a range of activities that increase commerce from eating out to shopping.”

Critics warned about the negative impact switching between Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time can have on our health.

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“Humans are not as simple as winding a watch back or forward or resetting a time on our microwave,” said Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). “The toll the time change has on our bodies and our mind can be severe.”

Dr. Beth Malow, a doctor of neurology and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical, argued that DST can hurt our sleep patterns and instead pushed for Standard Time to be made permanent.

“Our students and many American workers are at risk for chronic sleep loss and also what’s called circadian misalignment,” said Malow. “It basically refers to a mismatch in the timing between our work, school and sleep routines and the sun.”

Congress has considered measures over the years to make DST permanent but the proposals haven’t gotten very far.

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