North Carolina Should End Daylight Saving Time – Op-Ed From UNCC Economic Professor

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The North Carolina House recently passed a bill to make Daylight Saving Time permanent in the state.  Other states such as Georgia and Tennessee are considering similar legislation. As this bill makes its way to the state Senate, citizens should take a deeper look at this flawed measure.  Permanent Daylight Saving Time is a poor choice for residents in terms of health and safety.

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a shift from one type of time to another.  From November through March, the US is on Standard Time, which is anchored by when the sun is directly overhead at noon.  From March through November, clocks are turned ahead to shift sunrise and sunset one hour later.

More sunlight in the early evening may sound like a great idea.  It could lead to more outdoor exercise and recreation during that time.  Extended evening daylight could also reduce robberies and increase traffic safety.  But there would multiple negative impacts in terms of health, safety, and pollution.

As it turns out, light exposure in the morning is a key driver of biological cycles.  Shift work has long been linked to health problems, and with permanent DST, many people would be rising for work before the sun rises, altering circadian rhythms.  In comparison, Standard Time allows for more reasonable sunrise and sunset times across the state. Various scientific bodies have stated that adhering to Standard Time year-round would enhance sleep, improve cardiac health, reduce cancer risk, and reduce alcohol and tobacco consumption.  

The late winter sunrises could also create a safety hazard for children waiting for the school bus.  The current sunrise in Raleigh in January is around 7:25 am. With year-round DST, the winter sunrise would be delayed by one hour to 8:25 am, leading to elementary school children waiting for the bus in complete darkness.  For this reason, the National PTA has publicly stated their opposition to permanent DST.

Proponents of permanent DST claim it will reduce energy consumption.  This is not true. When Indiana implemented DST state-wide in 2006, it actually increased electricity consumption by $9 million per year.  It also increased emissions of various pollutants such as carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

Further, permanent DST, even if passed here in North Carolina, cannot be implemented due to federal law.  Florida passed a similar bill in 2018, but Florida residents are still turning their clocks. The only legal option for states is to opt-out of DST altogether, as Arizona has done.  Texas and New Mexico are currently debating legislation to join Arizona and stick to Standard Time year-round.

The practice of changing clocks twice a year is antiquated and harmful.  However, the best choice is not to extend Daylight Saving Time, but to end it.  Year-round Standard Time will allow for reasonable sunrises and enhance health and safety.  North Carolina should say no to permanent Daylight Saving Time.

More information about the benefits of year-round Standard Time is available at: staystandard.com

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Matthew Metzgar is a Clinical Professor of Economics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is the author of the textbook “Managerial Economics” published by TopHat Publishing in 2018.