Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

November 1, 2012

History of Daylight Saving Time has roots in business and practicality

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Prepare yourself, it’s that time again to reset the clocks, put batteries in the smoke detectors and be draggy and sleep-deprived on Monday morning. Daylight saving time ends officially at 2 a.m. Sunday and won’t be seen again until March 10, 2013.

What may surprise people is that the federal government doesn’t require Daylight Saving Time. Each state makes that decision for its residents. Arizona and Hawaii, for example, don’t change their clocks.

The U.S. Department of Transportation coordinates Daylight Saving among the states that practice it, a duty congress gave the department back in 1966. Consequently, 48 states will all go back to standard time on the first Sunday in November. We’ll return to DST the second Sunday in March.

Daylight Saving was extended one month starting in 2007. Prior to that, DST was the first Sunday in April through the last Sunday in October.                                    

The Department of Transportation offers this scintillating history of the time zones and DST on its Website:

“In 1883, U.S. and Canadian railroads adopted a four-zone system to govern their operations and reduce the confusion resulting from some 100 conflicting locally established “sun times” observed in terminals across the country.  States and municipalities then adopted one of the four zones, which were the eastern, central, mountain, and Pacific Time zones. Local decisions on which time zone to adopt were usually influenced by the time used by the railroads.

Federal oversight of time zones began in 1918 with the enactment of the Standard Time Act, which vested the Interstate Commerce Commission with the responsibility for establishing boundaries between the standard time zones in the continental United States. This responsibility was transferred from the Interstate Commerce Commission to DOT when Congress created DOT in 1966.

Today, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (15 U.S.C. §§ 260-64) establishes a system of uniform Daylight Saving Time throughout the Nation and its possessions, and provides that either Congress or the Secretary of Transportation can change a time-zone boundary.

The time zones established by the Standard Time Act, as amended by the Uniform Time Act, are Atlantic, eastern, central, mountain, Pacific, Hawaii–Aleutian, Samoa, and Chamorro.”

Although the U.S.-owned territories like Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands do have non-voting representatives in congress and their residents can receive federal benefits, they don’t have Daylight Saving Time. Among the touted benefits of DST are that people use less electricity, there are fewer traffic accidents and deaths, and less crime.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

Want to reset those clocks precisely this year? An illustration of the U.S. Naval Observatory time can be viewed at www.time.gov. For the exact time in all six U.S. time zones, go to http://tycho.usno.navy.mil, or to www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/time and click on “time” then “display clocks.”