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Apr 14, 2010 11:28 AM by Dave Baker

Pros and Cons of Daylight Saving Time

First things first. I am VERY much opposed to "year round" Daylight Saving Time. Yes, I have started this story with an editorial comment which normally shouldn't be done in the news business. Report the facts, and only the facts.

Louisiana State Representative Jonathan Perry of Abbeville has proposed a bill to extend Daylight Saving Time permanently across our state. I've already written one article about daylight time back in March when we made the switch. I stated, that I wasn't a fan of it and laid out my reasons. But since most of the nation does the twice yearly switch, it's probably best that Louisiana follows suit. After living in Indiana during the period when the Hoosier State didn't observe Daylight Time, I found that being the odd man out didn't help much and eventually after many years of debate, Indiana now makes the change like the rest of the nation.

In the lower 48, only parts of Arizona keep their clocks put. Arizona tried Daylight Time when it became the norm, but due to much public opposition, they went back and never observed "spring forward" again. Really now, when it's 125 degrees in the desert...most run from the sun! Hawaii and other US territories also opt out of Daylight time. The reason is because they are closer to the equator, the length of day doesn't change much over the course of the year. Alaska's Legislature tried and failed to pass an opt out bill. During the summer up there, the sun is up past 10pm (or all night in some cases), so who needs the extra hour?

Indiana was in a different situation. Geographically, they should be in Central Time, but most of the state is gerrymandered into Eastern Time. Some counties near Chicago observed Central Time and made the daylight switch like Illinois did, the same took place in the southwestern part of the state. A few Indiana counties near Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky observed Eastern Daylight Time (going against Federal Law) during the summer in order to stay on the same time as those nearby bigger cities for commuters. Workers having to cross a time zone twice a day wouldn't be efficient. The remainder of the state stayed on Eastern Standard Time all year long. So, there were three different time zones within the state and the time zone line was basically along the Ohio/Indiana border during the summer, and along the Illinois/Indiana border in the winter. I lived and worked in Terre Haute, Indiana, right on the Illinois state line. Working in TV was tough because our viewing area was 50% Illinois and 50% Indiana. We had a time zone line right down the middle, but only for half the year. You see, during the winter, the Indiana side was on Eastern Time, while Illinois was Central.

When Illinois observed daylight saving time, they jumped ahead one hour while Indiana's clocks stayed put. During the summer, our entire viewing area was on the same time. But here's where things got tricky. Prime time TV starts at 8pm Eastern/7pm Central. Since Indiana didn't observe the time change, we were essentially on "Central Time" during the summer. Prime time TV started at 7pm, our late news was at 10pm, just like it is here in Acadiana. But during the winter, when the rest of the nation would "fall back", we would be the same as the "Eastern Time Zone". Prime time TV now starts at 8pm, our late news was pushed to 11pm. Yes folks, my old TV station had late news on at 10pm for half the year, and 11pm the other half! Confused? So were our viewers. Our late show ratings would plummet (on the Indiana side) because nobody wanted to wait for their news at 11pm. I can hear our KATC Sales Team groaning already! If Louisiana stays on Daylight Time during the winter, we will have to do the same. "Acadiana's NewsChannel at 11". That just doesn't sound right. Plus all of your favorite shows during prime time would start 1 hour later than they do now. Unfortunately, we wouldn't get that break in the morning. Starting GMA an hour later would be the only thing that my sway my opinion toward year round DST.

But the one thing we always hear about is "Savings". Energy Savings to be exact. Did you know that the inspiration of Daylight Saving Time goes back to Benjamin Franklin? When he visited France, he noticed the people there liked to sleep until noon and then stay up very late into the night. They would complain that they were using so much candle wax to keep light in their homes. The solution? Get up earlier and go to bed earlier? That would be the obvious answer, sorry wrong guess! No, let's push the clocks ahead so the sun stays out later, so you don't use as many candles! Guess what...those people started waking up at 1:00 and you can probably guess the rest.

Which brings me to modern times. Will it really delay me from turning on my lights during the evening? Sure. But when the dark has been transferred to the morning, I have to turn on my lights earlier. Not much saving there unless the power companies are giving price discounts for electricity used during the morning. Since planes, trains, and trucks will be using a completely different time zone in Louisiana for part of the year, I can foresee confusion, and probably economic loss. I mean, why would Texas, Mississippi, or Arkansas do business with us if we're closing shop an hour earlier than them during the winter. Let alone any other state in the Central Time Zone. What about people who cross over from those states to work or do business. Sorry, Louisiana closes at 5pm! But wait? Isn't it 4:00? Nope, not here, it's 5.

How about safety? We've heard that with Daylight Time, crime is reduced and people drive safer. Okay, I'll agree with the crime thing. Most criminals tend to sleep in during the morning anyway and I don't anticipate them waking up an extra hour earlier to get a jump start on their crime spree. Drivers who have trouble seeing at night would have a better commute home after work, but they won't be able to drive TO work in the morning since it will still be dark when their work day begins. Plus, aren't you going to be more tired in the morning because it's dark? I'm STILL trying to get to work on time since the switch took place over a month ago! (And it's always dark at 3am!) For most of December and all of January, sunrise in Acadiana will be after 8am with Daylight Time. Sunrise will be after 7am from the end of September to the end of March. Kids will be at the bus stop in the dark for almost the entire school year. Plus, parents...isn't it hard enough to wake up a teenager for school? Now try waking them up in the dark! My kids' grades always dip as the clocks adjust. Phooey! One more thing you may not have thought of. Get ready State Troopers! Because our three bordering states would be an hour behind, does that mean there will be two "Last Calls" along our state lines? Kind of a reverse effect of when Louisiana's drinking age was "18".

Outdoor activity businesses like Golf Courses and amusement parks would benefit. With our warmer climate, I could see some increase in business in that sector. But any significant increase would only happen on weekends and during school breaks. But even with Daylight Saving Time in the winter, the best we're going to do here in Louisiana is 7pm for sunset. And with the gray, rainy, days we experience in December and January, that would be reduced to 6-6:30 at best. Not enough time for even 9 holes of golf! (Well for me anyway, I stink at golf!)

As in the past when when the vote comes, I expect it to fail. But it makes a nice news story, and brings debate. Hoyt's "Rant" was colorful last night with all of the opinions. Hopefully the rest of the legislature will continue to understand that "Year Round Daylight Saving Time" is BAD for Louisiana! But hey, that's just my opinion.

StormTeam3 Meteorologist Dave Baker

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