Rambling Roads: A D.S.T. Change

By George A. Hancock

Daylight Saving Time or D.S.T. begins Sunday, March 14 this year. This daylight shift remains until Sunday, November 7. D.S.T. creates more evening daylight hours, and most individuals support and appreciate this time shift.

Regular readers of my Runner’s Gazette column know I write extensively about this subject. I’m not a fan of this annual time shift. However, this column is different. Consider this a D.S.T. opinion change.

D.S.T. is the subject of numerous articles; this topic is discussed extensively. I’ve mentioned the two great books that thoroughly dissect this timely topic, both published in 2006. The first title is Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time by David Prerau. The second book is Michael Downing’s Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time. Both authors explain the how and why of Daylight Saving Time.

This is a fascinating subject. There are so many myths and urban legends associated with D.S.T. However, the real reason for this time shift, as documented by these authors, is simple. Lobbyists, interested groups and parties greatly influence the legislative process. We can thank the recreation industry for Daylight Saving Time, specifically the tennis and golf industry.

The early 20th Century continued the technological and industrial boom. Many new products were time savers. Manufacturers and industrialists were using the new time- and labor-saving devices and techniques. Consequently, workers gained more time for leisure activities. But, after work, daylight was not guaranteed. So various individuals promoted this time-shift concept, which was simple. One daylight hour was shifted from the morning to the evening in the spring. Normal time or Eastern Standard Time E.S.T. resumed in the fall. This gave workers more daylight hours to pursue their outdoor recreational activities.

The United States Congress has amended this concept numerous times. Today, we begin D.S.T. on the second Sunday in March. We resume E.S.T on the first November Sunday. This gives folks ample opportunity to “play” in the evening daylight.  

I notice many things while running along the local roads. Of course, our region’s scenic seasonal beauty is foremost. One sight has the tendency to raise the heart rate. This scary sight is distracted driving, not an occasional sight; it’s an everyday occurrence. So I run where there’s ample room to escape these meandering motorists. The time change fuels the distracted driving mode. Many motorists don’t do change well. The morning after this time switch is surreal. The facial expressions are scary. The crashing statistics are also frightening. This time switch issue seems to last for a significant time, too. Yet, there is a credible solution. 

This is a solution that really doesn’t thrill me, but in all honesty is best for everyone. This year after resuming Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, March 14, stay there. This fall, do not switch back to Eastern Standard Time or E.S.T. Just run D.S.T. across the calendar. Although not a new idea, staying with D.S.T. removes those weary distracted time-switch issues. I’ll see less vehicles wrapped around poles, trees, and each other.

And, we’re talking about an hour shift from morning to evening. This twice a year shift creates too many problems. Staying with D.S.T. would reduce, perhaps eliminate, many of those distracted driving errors. Plus, year-round D.S.T. is simple. This is not an earth-shattering task.

I realize year-round D.S.T. will not eliminate all distracted driving issues. But with COVID-19 remaining prevalent, year-round D.S.T. offers normalcy besides the extra evening daylight. It’s time for year-round Daylight Saving Time. Run well, run smart!

Peter Weida runs along the Susquehanna River in early morning during Eastern Standard Time.

Categories: Features

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