Why Do We Turn Back Time?

Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2am Sunday November 1st when clocks are turned back an hour and most people in the United States get an extra hour of sleep.  This hour is lost when the process is reversed on the second Sunday in March when Standard Time ends for the summer.  Who is responsible for this madness and why are we forced to find the instructions to reprogram the DVD player twice each year?

Ben Franklin, the American diplomat from Philadelphia proposed the idea of altering time in his essay “An Economical Project”, published in 1784 while he was living in Paris.  No one acted on the idea until 1907 when an English builder named WIlliam Willett suggested moving the clocks ahead in 20 minute increments on four Sundays in April and reversing the process in September.  He simply wanted to enjoy the sunlight in the evenings during the warmer months.  He spent a fortune lobbying the British Parliament to pass a law but the farming interests fought it and WIllett died in 1915, ridiculed and unsuccessful.

However, on April 30, 1916 at 10pm, Germany and Austria began Daylight Saving Time and Britain followed on May 21 of the same year.  Most of Europe quickly followed suite, along with Australia and parts of Canada.  The United States did not take action until March 31, 1918.  The idea was so unpopular, the change was repealed in 1919 and the clocks remained unchanged until World War II when President Roosevelt put the country on Daylight Saving Time, called “War Time” year round.  This lasted from February 1942 to September 1945 when the whole process was left up to the states and communities to decide if they wanted Daylight Saving Time or not.  By 1966, this confusing hodgepodge of time changes was standardized with the passage of the Uniform Time Act which set the stage for the cycle we are familiar with today.

Did you know:

In the early 1960′s, on a 35-mile stretch of highway (Route 2) between Moundsville, W.V., and Steubenville, Ohio, the time changed seven times.

The time had already changed back to Standard Time in Israel in September 1999 when West Bank terrorists had their helpers in Israel in place to plant bombs on two crowded buses.  The West Bank was still on Daylight Saving Time and the confusion resulted in the bombs exploding an hour too early, killing the terrorists.

Trains have to stay on schedule and they can’t leave the station before the published time.  Each Sunday in the fall when the clocks fall back one hour, all on-schedule Amtrak trains must stop at 2am and wait one hour so they will remain on schedule.  In the spring when Daylight Saving Time begins, all trains are automatically behind schedule one hour at 2am.  They must find ways to try to catch up over the course of the following day.

The Amish choose by community whether to observe Daylight Standard Time, which they often call “fast time” or “English time.”

Source:  Daylight Saving Time

About Pam Linkous

Editor of my high school newspaper back when papers were carved into stone tablets and delivered by oxen, I now spend my days unraveling the mysteries of Blackboard (like, you mean my instructor has my paper NOW...I just accidently pressed enter....oh noooooo) and trying to understand how textbooks today cost more than tuition did when I went to college the first time. Despite needing several more hours per day to get everything done (who do I e-mail, Facebook, blog about that?), I still love to write and am willing to take on assignments that do not require staying up past my bedtime.
This entry was posted in Campus News. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.