Everyone is aware of one of the biggest aspects of the shift between seasons: Daylight Savings. At the beginning of this month, Americans turned back their clocks an hour. For most people, it’s a blessing to earn one more sacred hour of sleep for a day, especially for sleep-deprived teens. However, there is a growing number of New Englanders who are unhappy with the time change, so much so that lawmakers in the region are proposing that all six states ditch the time change entirely, opting for the Atlantic time zone instead of the Eastern one. In this case, we would join the time zones of places like Nova Scotia and Puerto Rico.
While this may sound a little preposterous, this time change yields very few benefits for the Northeast. Besides the holy extra hour, Daylight Savings only means dark, gloomy afternoons, with a sun that seems to start setting when 4 o’clock hits.
Daylight Saving Time was originally viewed as a way to cut down on energy use by replacing electric lighting with sunlight, and Congress set the uniform dates in 1966. But losing an hour each spring has been associated with traffic deaths, workplace injuries, and heart attacks, according to research. The state commission argued that more light in the afternoon would boost local commerce through evening retail sales, help students who cite the cold, dark winters as a frustration/stressor, and even reduce crime and energy usage.
The main opposers to Massachusetts’s proposal are educators, as they say they are worried about children getting up and walking to school in darkness; however, this can be countered with delayed start times. Concord-Carlisle has already accomplished the later start time, and many other schools are considering to follow suit, such as Acton-Boxborough.
On a map, New England is hundreds of miles farther east than other Eastern Standard Time cities, which is why it currently gets darker earlier in Boston than it does in Buffalo, for example, despite the latter being farther north. In December, the sun sets in between 4:11 and 4:27 for the entire month.
However, while this may sound like a good idea, it does hold concerns as well. Switching to an earlier time zone and dropping daylight saving would put Massachusetts an hour out of sync from the rest of the East Coast from November to March, which could result in a good deal of confusion and inconvenience. This is because not only would there be a time difference, but there would be a non-uniform time difference, which could prove very disruptive for things from transportation to entertainment. The hour time difference could confuse passengers at New England airports traveling to/from places like NYC or D.C., and confuse regular television schedules.
Overall, it seems as though the pros outweigh the cons. However, unfortunately, Massachusetts is the only state vying for this change, so it is unlikely to happen anytime soon. So for now, we can all enjoy that one blessed hour of sleep on the first Sunday in November.