It’s a biannual aggravation: Setting your clocks forward an hour each spring only to drop them back every fall.
But should South Carolina do away with daylight saving time’s long summer days and sun-starved winters?
State Rep. Alan Clemmons wants to ask S.C. voters, filing a proposal last week to put the question on 2018 ballots. The Horry Republican hopes the poll’s results drive lawmakers to make South Carolina the only state east of Arizona to ignore daylight saving time.
“I hear complaints almost universally every spring and fall when it’s time to spring forward or fall back,” Clemmons said. “We’re not just changing our clocks. It interrupts our sleep patterns. That’s particularly impactful toward school-age children. The change is not always good.”
Americans have reset their clocks here and there since World War I, when daylight saving time was temporarily established to save fuel. The government enacted the policy again for World War II, but American timekeeping was thrown into chaos when, after the war, some localities kept daylight saving time while others did not.
For some two decades, according to the Washington Post, hardly anyone knew what time it was.
Local time changed seven times during the hourlong bus ride from Steubenville, Ohio, to Moundsville, West Virginia, the Post wrote.
President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Uniform Time Act of 1966 restored order, but Americans have groused about changing their clocks and adjusting sleep patterns ever since.
A 2014 telephone survey found just a third of Americans think daylight saving time is worth the trouble. Researchers now doubt daylight saving time actually saves energy and have noted its association to workplace accidents and other health risks.
Earlier this month, ahead of the Nov. 5 time change, a Business Insider article called the practice “humanity’s dumbest ritual.”
Some states already have considered changes, though only two – Hawaii and Arizona, which don’t need the extra sunlight – ignore daylight saving time.
This year, lawmakers in 18 states – from California and Colorado to Maine and Mississippi – considered proposals rolling back, extending or otherwise changing daylight saving time. That was up from the 13 states that considered such changes in 2016, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Still, Clemmons’ proposal could be a tough lift here.
The retail lobby loves the extra hour of sunlight eight months a year, which gives customers more time to shop. Vacationers, concertgoers, boaters, cookout hosts and sports fans – not to mention almost everyone else – love long summer days.
South Carolina is surrounded by states that observe daylight saving time – and would be in a different time zone between March and November. That could cause headaches for travelers, tourists or border residents who commute across state lines.
But a couple days’ aggravation is hardly enough to prompt the kind of widespread outrage that inspires lawmakers to act.
The S.C. Chamber of Commerce says it has not studied the impacts a change might have on state businesses.
Research is mixed on the economic ramifications of ignoring daylight saving time, said University of South Carolina research economist Joseph Von Nessen.
“It is difficult to determine what the net effect would be for this particular change in South Carolina,” Von Nessen said.
Clemmons said his friends in the Arizona legislature swear their law does not discourage business or disrupt travel.
“Looking at Arizona, I don’t see that that holds true.”