'Daylight saving' is a misnomer

The semiannual ritual of switching from daylight saving time to standard time and back again annoys a lot of people. Too many clocks, VCRs, and computers to reset. Missed appointments. Interrupted sleep. Some folks complain it's like getting jetlag without leaving home.

There's even a Web site, www.standardtime.com, that recommends either keeping DST all year long or scrapping it totally.

The culprit: The Uniform Time Act, which was updated in 1986 to ensure that daylight saving time begins 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in April and ends 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in October.

The origin of daylight saving time goes back to World Wars I and II, when it was mandated by Congress to reduce energy use. The idea stuck. Today, people assume that resetting clocks is just the way things are done. If asked why, they'll say, "It's because of farmers and schoolchildren."

Not quite. In fact, many farmers don't like daylight saving time. In Indiana, where part of the state observes it and the other does not, the Farm Bureau opposes a statewide move to DST.

It's true, however, that parents feel better if kids wait for the morning school bus in daylight. Driving safety improves in daylight, although a study by a Canadian researcher found that traffic accidents increased 8 percent on the Monday following the start of DST in April - when clocks are set forward. He surmised that the hour of sleep lost was a factor.

Circadian rhythms aside, it's a nuisance to reset all those gadgets. Surely a better answer exists.

Now if I could just find the manual for the VCR....

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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