Proposition 7 which is to be voted on next month would repeal California’s Daylight Saving Time Act, thus ending the annual ritual of “springing forward” and “falling back” for nearly 40 million people. If passed Prop. 7 would set the state’s clocks permanently to Pacific Standard Time.
Ironically, perhaps, Election Day falls on Tuesday, Nov. 6 — two days after voters will have set their clocks one hour earlier in the wee hours of Sunday morning. You might think that people consequently will be well rested and clear headed at the polls, but you’d be wrong.
Since California voters mandated daylight saving time (DST) in 1949, considerable evidence has accumulated that shifting clocks back-and- forth twice each year has significant economic costs. Because the human body’s circadian rhythms get a jolt regardless of the direction of the time change, people are less productive at work for a day or two afterward.
Much more seriously, the risks of heart attacks and automobile accidents spike. Pedestrians are more likely to be hit in the days following the return to standard time as drivers adjust to commuting home in the dark.
Despite myriad studies of DST’s effects, no evidence whatsoever has been found that moving clocks forward in the spring saves energy, which was President Nixon’s justification for getting Congress to adopt DST nationwide in the early 1970s.
Energy savings may have justified the hassle of resetting clocks in March before air conditioning became widespread, but cranking up the AC when the sun is at 5 p.m., but your clock’s hands point to 6 pm has caused more power being consumed ever since.
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