Daylight-saving time starts on Sunday, March 14 at 2 a.m. Clocks will move forward one hour.
A group of US senators reintroduced a bill that would make the time change permanent.
Research suggests there's an uptick in car accidents and heart attacks when clocks change.
Democrat and Republican senators don't often agree, but they seem to share a similar dislike of changing clocks.
On Sunday at 2:00 a.m., most clocks in North America will move forward one hour, kicking off daylight-saving time (DST) in 2021. The time change will lead evenings to stay lighter later as spring approaches.
But a bipartisan group of eight senators, including Marco Rubio from Florida and Ed Markey from Massachusetts, reintroduced a bill on Wednesday that would make the time change permanent. If the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, as it's known, passes, the US wouldn't switch to standard time in the fall. The ritual of falling back and springing forward by an hour every year would be over.
Both Florida and California voted to switch to DST permanently in 2018, but federal law stipulates that Congress must approve any such move. At least 15 other states have passed similar laws. Hawaii and most of Arizona already do not observe DST.
"The call to end the antiquated practice of clock changing is gaining momentum throughout the nation," Rubio said in a press release.
Indeed, a 2019 poll suggested that 70% of Americans prefer not to switch their clocks back and forth. People have sent nearly 6.5 million messages to Congress as part of a petition to "stop unnecessary flip flopping of time."
"#LockTheClock," Rubio tweeted on Wednesday.
Markey said the pandemic adds even more reason to eliminate the switch between DST and standard time.
"Studies have found year-round Daylight-Saving Time would improve public health, public safety, and mental health - especially important during this cold and dark COVID winter," he said in the release.
Health issues linked to changing clocks
Research suggests a variety of health issues are associated with changing the clocks.
Daylight-saving time is like scooting one time zone over, so its effects are similar to jet lag. The change can disrupt sleep, metabolism, mood, stress levels, and other bodily rhythms. In the days after DST starts or ends, researchers have observed an increase in heart attacks, strokes requiring hospitalization, workplace injuries, automobile crashes, and car accidents involving pedestrians.
Making DST permanent could also reduce Americans' risk of seasonal depression. Less exposure to sunlight - which happens in fall and winter after the clocks turn back - is linked to seasonal affective disorder and feelings of depression, according to the Mayo Clinic.
More daylight in the evening also encourages people to exercise: A 2017 study found that DST increased pedestrian activity by 62% and cyclist activity by 38% over a five-year period in Arlington, Virginia.
Additionally, according to a 2015 report, DST is linked to a 27% reduction in the number of robberies across the US during the extra evening hour of sunlight.
An antiquated ritual
The map below shows a breakdown of which parts of the world have gotten rid of daylight-saving time or have never had it. Blue areas observe DST, red areas never have, and orange areas once did but have abolished it. Two years ago, the European Parliament voted to make 2021 the last time clocks in the EU switch back and forth. Individual member countries will have to decide which time system to make permanent next year: DST or standard time.
The map also shows the parts of the US that don't observe daylight-saving time, including most of Arizona (excluding the Navajo and Hopi nations) and Hawaii.
Germany was the first country to establish daylight-saving time when it started the policy in 1916, during World War I. The US adopted it two years later as a strategy to cut energy use. Not waking up in the dark, the thinking went, would decrease fuel use for lighting and heating, thereby conserving energy supplies for the war effort.
After the war ended, it was left up to US states to choose whether to continue it. Since then, the exact length of DST - typically 8 months between mid-March and mid-November - has vacillated over time. And during World War II and between 1974-1975, the US kept it year-round.
But research suggests the US would only see energy savings now if it switched to permanent DST. After the country extended DST by four weeks in 2005, a follow-up study from the Department of Energy found that total electricity consumption in the US decreased by 0.5% per day during those weeks.
Rather than adopt DST permanently, two Johns Hopkins economists have a more radical proposal: Scrap both the clock change and time zones altogether across the globe.
In a National Review op-ed on Friday, Steve Hanke and Christopher Arena suggested that every country should adopt Coordinated Universal Time - the time currently used in the area surrounding the Prime Meridian, at 0 degrees longitude. Every person's watch would be set to the same time, regardless of where they are in the world.
"With that, everyone around the world would rise with the sun in the morning and go to sleep when it's dark at night according to their natural circadian rhythm, not some artificial time constraint," they wrote.
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