WASHINGTON - Americans are one step closer to never having to "fall back" or "spring forward" with resetting their clocks after the U.S. Senate approved a measure that would make daylight saving time permanent.
Senators on Tuesday unanimously voted for the Sunshine Protection Act, or S.623, sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
The proposed bill will now move to the House. If House members approve, it would then go to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
"No more switching clocks, more daylight hours to spend outside after school and after work, and more smiles — that is what we get with permanent Daylight Saving Time," Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, the original cosponsor of the legislation, said in a statement.
Markey was joined on the chamber floor by senators from both parties as they made the case for how making daylight saving time permanent would have positive effects on public health and the economy and even cut energy consumption.
"Changing the clock twice a year is outdated and unnecessary," Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said.
"I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Americans want more sunshine and less depression — people in this country, all the way from Seattle to Miami, want the Sunshine Protection Act," Sen. Patty Murray of Washington added.
What is daylight saving time?
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, daylight saving time, or DST, started in the U.S. in 1918 as a way to create more sunlit hours when the weather is the warmest.
During the long days of summer, the sun rose in some northern regions between 4 and 5 a.m., when most non-farmers were asleep. Sunset happened before 8 p.m. and people turned on lights. By moving the clocks ahead an hour, backers believed the country could divert a bit of coal-fired electricity to the military instead of using it for an hour of home power. It was again adopted in World War II.
After each war, Congress rescinded the national laws, but many people liked the extra hour of sunshine at the end of summer days, so some states and even cities observed daylight saving time while others kept standard time year-round. That meant driving relatively short distances could result in a time change or three.
By 1966, airlines and other clock-watching businesses tired of such quirks and pushed Congress to pass the Uniform Time Act. It codified daylight saving time, although it has been periodically modified, particularly the start and end dates. The only states not observing daylight time are Hawaii and Arizona, except for the latter’s Navajo reservations, which do.
DST is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the state of Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Indian Reservation).
Daylight saving time or standard time
There aren’t many studies showing whether standard time or daylight saving time is better for Americans, other than it being more of a matter of personal preference. However, Rubio has expressed several reasons why he favors daylight saving time, citing various studies.
The senator believes making DST permanent will reduce car crashes and car accidents involving pedestrians as there will be more daylight during drivers’ standard work hours, pointing to findings from the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Safety Research.
He also said that having more daylight in the evening will reduce the risk for cardiac issues, stroke and seasonal depression.
Rubio also cited a study where robberies could also decrease by 27% if there was more daylight during the evening hours.
Other benefits, according to Rubio, include reducing childhood obesity, increasing in physical fitness as well as improving the agricultural economy.
He also believes a permanent DST will reduce energy usage. However, According to timeandate.com, a permanent DST will not reduce energy as more people use computers, TV screens, and air conditioning units whether or not the sun is still up, meaning that any energy saved with DST is negligible.
However, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine is calling for permanent standard time.
"Permanent, year-round standard time is the best choice to most closely match our circadian sleep-wake cycle," Dr. M. Adeel Rishi said on the organization's website. "Daylight saving time results in more darkness in the morning and more light in the evening, disrupting the body’s natural rhythm."
What Americans think of daylight saving time
A poll conducted last October shows that most Americans want to avoid switching between daylight saving and standard time, though there is no consensus behind which should be used all year.
The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found only 25% of Americans said they preferred to switch back and forth between standard and daylight saving time.
Forty-three percent of Americans said they would like to see standard time used during the entire year. Thirty-two percent say they would prefer that daylight saving time be used all year.
But the clock may be running out on how much longer daylight saving time will stick around.
Rubio has repeatedly attempted to make DST permanent. Several other states have voiced their support or opposition to daylight saving time.
But any change can’t take effect unless Congress changes federal law.
And in case you’re wondering, if the proposal fails to become law, we get to change those clocks again when daylight saving time ends on November 6, 2022.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.