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In our opinion: Daylight saving time — set the clock once and leave it alone

SHARE In our opinion: Daylight saving time — set the clock once and leave it alone
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In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 photo, Dan LaMoore sizes hands for an 8-foot diameter silhouette clock at Electric Time Co., in Medfield, Mass. Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. local time Sunday, when clocks are set back one hour.

AP

Like many people, you may be coming to the dawning realization that early Sunday morning is that time of year again — the one in which the time changes at 2 a.m. and much of the nation experiences jet lag without actually going anywhere.

Daylight saving time will end and, for four months, all states will join Arizona and Hawaii in observing what is known as standard time. You know the drill, just as you should know it’s the preferred time to check the batteries in your smoke detector.

This is the time when you “fall back,” meaning you actually gain an hour of potential sleep Sunday morning. Still, many people don’t like this semiannual ritual. They have science on their side.

Studies show that moving the clock back an hour during the darkest time of year can trigger depression because darkness sets in sooner in the evenings. An Australian study even found a link to an increase in the suicide rate. Other studies point to something called “microsleeps,” which lay persons might call “zoning out.” These can be dangerous if they happen during times when attention in crucial.

These effects last only a few days. People adapt about as quickly as they would if they traveled one time zone to the West.

Still, the overriding question is why such a change is necessary.

Utah lawmakers have considered and rejected several bills in recent years that would have dealt with this, finally passing a resolution last year expressing frustrations to Washington. Federal law allows states the freedom to adopt standard time permanently, but not daylight saving time. That’s a problem, since daylight saving time seems to be the most popular of the two, especially with golfers and dairy farmers.

In 2020, state Sen. Wayne Harper plans to introduce a bill that would put Utah on permanent daylight saving time if at least four other Western states do the same and the federal government changes the law to allow it.

At least six other states have passed similar bills, and others are considering it. The idea is to build up enough evidence of popular will that Washington will take notice.

Two members of Congress already have. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah has a bill that would give states the freedom to choose daylight saving or standard time permanently, or to keep changing their clocks. Sen. Marco Rubio or Florida wants to establish permanent daylight saving from coast to coast.

We’re a bit concerned about Bishop’s idea, which might lead to a patchwork of time zones that would spur confusion and add unnecessary inhibitors to commerce and travel. Time should be predictable and easy to understand.

But we suspect many Americans would just like their state to pick a time and stick with it.

Last spring, the European Union decided to scrap its requirement that all member states change times twice a year. Its 28 countries now have until 2021 to decide whether to adopt daylight saving or standard time permanently. Officials report that the countries are working together on a coordinated approach.

The EU’s move is a signal that the world is losing its use for artificial time changes, which were started a century ago to extend daylight and save energy costs. We hope that spurs the United States to end the practice, as well.