Our Opinion: What if we didn't change our clocks each spring?
Here's a question to our readers this week:
What time is it?
That was the thought many Washington County residents woke up to Sunday morning with the arrival, once again, of Daylight Saving Time.
All across America — well, most of it, anyway — clocks were set one hour ahead this past weekend, cutting out an hour of sleep in order to give American's longer summer days as we enter the warmer, sunnier parts of the year.
But more and more people are looking to do away with the practice of changing time, in favor of a year-round Daylight Saving that could ease some of the problems long associated with the practice.
State Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, and State Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, introduced bills in Salem that would allow voters to decide whether or not they want to continue changing their clocks twice a year. Thatcher's district represents parts of Washington County, including parts of Hillsboro, Scholls and Farmington.
California, Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia are also debating whether or not to permanently adopting Daylight Saving Time year-round. Doing so would effectively end the practice of Daylight Saving on the west coast, doing away with biannual clock changes forever.
This newspaper has been critical of some of Thatcher's ideas in the past, but eliminating the frequent changes to time strikes us as something worthy of discussion.
Proponents of daylight saving have said the practice of re-arranging our clocks gives people more sunlight in the evening hours. For years, people argued the practice reduces energy consumption, which may have been true in the early- to mid- 20th Century, but studies on this subject are difficult to prove one way or another. Some studies say one thing, others say another, but all agree that the energy saved or lost by shifting clocks one hour is miniscule in this more high-tech, energy-efficient world.
What we can say with more certainty, though, is that constantly switching our clocks back and forth does have an impact on each and every one of us.
Losing that hour of sleep in the spring contributes to sleep deprivation. The week after clocks change, studies show, workers are less productive. Heart attacks and suicide rise. There are more traffic crashes in those first few days as sleep-deprived drivers commute to and from work an hour earlier. Studies have shown a spike in depression diagnoses as people adjust to the new time and a study in 2015 went so far as to suggest that changing clocks could lead to a drop in evening crime rates.
The twice-yearly changing of the clocks brings about a regular flurry of questions as people debate whether or not the practice is worthwhile.
One study from 2014 concluded that only one in three Americans think that Daylight Saving Time is worth the hassle. In the Pacific Northwest, the number was even lower, about one-in-five residents, according to Pemco Insurance Northwest.
Thatcher has tried to stop Daylight Saving before. In 2015 she introduced a bill that would let voters decide whether to abolish the practice. That bill didn't go anywhere. At the time, state lawmakers questioned the wisdom of having a different time zone than our neighbors in Washington and California. That argument is moot if Washington and California opt to do away with the one-hour time jumps, too.
British Columbia's Premier John Horgan wrote to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown last week, saying the province should work with West Coast states on a uniform plan.
"We have too many economic ties ... too many social and cultural ties to have one jurisdiction or two being out of sync with the others," Horgan said March 7, according to the CBC.
In Washington, D.C., Florida senator and former presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has reintroduced a bill that would make Daylight Saving Time year-round nationwide. Rubio introduced a similar bill last year, which went nowhere.
Whether the answer is year-round Standard Time or year-round Daylight Saving, the important thing is eliminating the real issues that come with changing time.
On Monday, President Donald Trump announced his support for a nationwide year-round Daylight Saving Time.
Daylight Saving Time began in Europe during World War I as a way to conserve supplies, and much of the western world soon followed suit. America, though, has played around with the idea of Daylight Saving. We observed it during World War I, then many states dropped the practice through the 1920s and 1930s. From 1942 to 1945, President. Franklin Roosevelt instituted "War Time," a yearlong Daylight Saving. Several states adopted the more familiar summer daylight saving after World War II, and DST as we know it today launched in 1966.
States opting out of Daylight Saving has happened before. Hawaii and Arizona — two sunny, warm states with no need for extra hours or sunshine — don't participate in Daylight Saving Time at all. The state of Florida has already voted to adopt year-round Daylight Saving Time.
The possibility of ending the practice across the west coast brings a real potential to an idea we haven't given much thought to before.
If ending the practice of changing our clocks twice a year will mean health and safety benefits, it's definitely something worth pursuing.
We look forward to hearing what experts on the matter have to say.
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