The pros and cons of switching to permanent Daylight Saving Time
With Premier John Horgan declaring “the time is now right” to switch to permanent Daylight Saving Time (DST) it’s now likely that it will happen.
A recent public consultation with more than 220,000 responses saw 93 per cent of British Columbians support getting rid of the seasonal time changes.
Let’s have a look at some of the pros, cons and unknowns about making the switch.
WATCH: Huge majority of British Columbians want Daylight Saving Time permanent
Pets and children: Anyone with a pet or child will tell you about the issues of changing the clocks twice a year. No matter how many times you tell a three year old they are getting an extra hour of sleep because the clocks are going back it just doesn’t seem to make a difference.
More daylight at the end of a winter’s day: On Dec. 21, 2018, the shortest day of the year, the sun set in Vancouver at 4:16 p.m. In a world on permanent Daylight Saving Time the sun would set at 5:16 p.m., giving most people at least a little but of sunlight after work.
Not having to remember to switch the clocks: You would think most people keep time on their phones and those phones switch time with seasonal time shifts. But think about the watches, car stereos and wall clocks that still factor into people’s lives. There are even those that have missed work because they forgot to spring forward.
WATCH (March 9, 2019): The pros and cons of daylight saving time
Improving workplace safety: In its written submission to the province on the future of time, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce said it has seen “a growing body of evidence that the yearly time change is challenging that safe workplace.” The chamber mentions that workplace accidents increase around the time changes. A 2009 study reported in the Journal of Applied Psychology also found that that the lost hour led to more frequent and more severe injuries among minors.
Reducing traffic accidents: ICBC has never been able to provide numbers for crash increases in B.C. around the changing of the clocks but other jurisdictions have shown some instances where traffic accidents increases especially during ‘fall back’ in November. The main reason is it gets darker earlier.
Improving health: Many groups responding to the survey cited a growing body of research on sleeping patterns and heart attacks. Experts have argued sleep deprivation can lead to heart attacks. The time change only happens twice a year, but the effects can linger for some people for a week or so. Island Health has asked the B.C. government to conduct “a health-focused review of the potential impact of this proposed change.”
Aligning the social clock and the body clock: Circadian Light Therapy Inc. provided a submission to the B.C. government explaining that changing the clocks twice a year creates a divide between ones social clock and body clock. The organization argues keeping the clocks the same keeps people healthier by keeping the clocks in sync.
Walking the kids to school in darkness: Under permanent Daylight Saving Time there would be less light in the morning during the winter months. On Dec. 21, the sun rose at 8:05 a.m. If the time stays on permanent DST the sun would rise at 9:05 a.m., meaning morning walks to school and commutes to work would be done in the dark.
WATCH (March 7, 2019): Daylight Saving Time debate starts again
Problems with avalanche control: The Canada West Ski Areas Association says sticking to permanent DST would impacts outdoor workers in the winter more than any other group. The additional hour of morning darkness could delay avalanche control in particular because the work must be done in daylight to properly assess the risks to humans, wildlife and physical plant and infrastructure.
Aligning computer systems: There are some concerns from the business community that computer systems programmed to switch twice a year will not be able to keep up with a change if it happens soon before the clocks are scheduled to change.
Concerns from Jewish communities attending prayer: The Rabbinical Council of America says permanent DST “would unreasonably infringe upon the Jewish community’s ability to attend to daily prayers in British Columbia.”
Disconnection from the natural world: The Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of B.C. is worried that permanent DST would disconnect us from the natural world. The group argues that standard time is the system of time that is more based on the actual world we live in.
“Yes, time zones already ‘mess with’ our natural ‘solar noon’ markers — the sun will be directly overhead in my town (Ucluelet) at a slightly different time than it’s directly overhead the next town over (say, Port Alberni),” the group argues.
“Switching to Daylight Saving Time in the summer distances us from these natural cycles by an hour.”
WATCH (March 11, 2019): Permanent Daylight Saving Time coming soon?
The Pacific U.S. states: This is one of the biggest factors in the switch. California, Oregon and Washington all want to move to permanent DST. But they need Congress to approve it. At least now Washington Senator Patty Murray is a point person to try and get legislation passed before the fall. Fifty-five per cent of respondents to the survey don’t want to make a change if the U.S. doesn’t.
The Vancouver Airport Authority provided a submission arguing it would create confusion if B.C. switched and the Pacific states didn’t.
“It is our view that British Columbia should observe time in the same manner as U.S. states on the west coast and the Yukon. Operating in a different time zone to our neighbours would negatively impact the competitiveness of our region and create unnecessary confusion for businesses and travellers,” Vancouver Airport Authority CEO Craig Richmond wrote.
“Should state legislators choose to observe Daylight Saving Time year-round, then we believe that British Columbia should quickly follow suit.”
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