Clippings: Daylight Saving Time has expired

Founding father Benjamin Franklin — what a guy. He came up with a lot of neat ideas, including bifocals, the lightning rod and the stove that bears his name. In his spare time, he was an author, printer, politician, postmaster and scientist.

But every March, I wish ol’ Ben had been flying his kite instead of brainstorming what I believe to be his most dubious contribution to society: Daylight Saving Time (DST) — setting the clock back one hour in the fall and forward one hour in the spring to maximize the availability of daylight.

The notion made some sense a few hundred years ago, when plows were guided by oxen and kids walked to school three miles (uphill each way) to school. When DST was finally adopted during World War I, advocates pointed to other advantages, such as saving energy that would otherwise be expended on lighting and providing less night cover for would-be criminals.

Phooey.

Count me among the people who consider DST nothing more than a nuisance — at least in March when we do that “spring forward” thing.

Am I the only one who literally made time fly this past Monday when 6:30 a.m. felt like 5:30 a.m.? Did DST mean anything to anybody other than having to paw through glove compartments and drawers to find info on how to re-set those stoves, microwaves, DVD players and vehicle clocks? Thank goodness most cell phones make the switch automatically.

Then there’s the “grump” factor that lasts around a week while you’re getting acclimated to the change, which must negate the theory that more daylight means less crime. More daylight means a longer span in which to see cranky, sleep-deprived people flip you off.

Every spring, I try to use some self-discipline and hit the hay an hour earlier to compensate for the hour I will be losing the next morning. No good. I just end up tossing and turning, worrying about sleeping through my alarm and missing the appointment I’ve made the next day.

So I try to cheer myself up believing that baggy eyes are a small price to pay for my son and his friends who have more daylight to wait for the school bus. Oh, but wait a minute, there is actually less daylight in the mornings, which defeats the purpose of DST, doesn’t it? And I realize that once I spring Mark out of his bed with dynamite, he will be driving to school along with most of his buddies. And judging from the traffic at Mount Abraham Union High School, a lot of the younger students are hitching a ride with mom or dad.

But the extra daylight will be a safety boon to drivers, right? Not necessarily. Several states have compiled statistics showing a propensity for more accidents involving groggy drivers adjusting to the time change.

Well, at least we save on energy by using fewer lights given all the extra daylight, right? Nope. I’d wager that’s offset by the extra running of air conditioners in the warmer states.

Still, I’m sure there must be some winners with DST. For example, coffee producers have gotta love the extra caffeine injections being ordered by the drowsy masses. March should be dubbed “National Coffee Month.” Alarm clock manufacturers will probably do bang-up business this month as people replace the ones they’ve smashed in fits of sleepless rage.

Hey, world, here’s a compromise: How about keeping half of DST — the part where the clocks fall back. Nothing ups productivity and a person’s demeanor more than getting an extra hour in the sack.

Let’s at least sleep on it.


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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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