PA shouldn’t be worried about clock

Pennsylvania lawmakers have many more important issues demanding their attention than considering whether Daylight Savings Time, which went into effect last weekend, should in the future be eliminated in the commonwealth.

As long as the whole nation, or a region of the country like the Middle Atlantic States, doesn’t revert to permanent Standard Time, Pennsylvania shouldn’t opt for the change by itself.

Consider the confusion that could result if numerous states across the country randomly started opting for the change.

For our state, Daylight Savings Time has been a point of conversation since March 6, when CBS Philly reported that a member of the state General Assembly was planning to introduce legislation to end the practice of moving clocks ahead by one hour in the springtime.

That lawmaker, Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon County, said there are good reasons for keeping Standard Time in effect year-round. He referred to studies indicating that DST can be responsible for increased health risks and fatigued driving. He also pointed to a 2016 study of 300 U.S. cities that found DST responsible for $434 million in annual economic losses, including negative economic impact in every Pennsylvania metropolitan area studied.

“Changing clocks twice every year simply because ‘we’ve always done it that way’ is not enough reason to continue the practice,” Diamond said.

Maybe not, but one state on a Standard Time “island” while other states are observing DST doesn’t make sense.

It’s true that Arizona and Hawaii do not observe DST, but their locations aren’t conducive to the confusion that could reign for most other parts of the country.

Pennsylvania seldom is a leader regarding anything new. If it wants to change its current follower status, it should do so via a more important cause.

There is plenty of more important business facing lawmakers than wasting time on a proposal for which there is no real urgency and for which state residents and visitors might be better served by relegating the idea to some dusty shelf.

Meanwhile, there’s a window for disputing at least one of Diamond’s arguments: his emphasis on fatigued driving.

In 1975, the federal Department of Transportation conservatively identified a 0.7 percent reduction in traffic fatalities during Daylight Savings Time but estimated the real reduction as between 1.5 percent and 2 percent.

So Diamond might be wrong about DST’s overall impact on transportation.

Diamond’s point about virtually non-existent energy savings due to DST apparently is correct. A 2017 meta-analysis of 44 studies found that DST leads to electricity savings of only 0.34 percent during days when DST applies.

And, it’s believed that clock shifts increase the risk of a heart attack by 10 percent, which is consistent with Diamond’s concern about adverse health impacts.

Still, DST proponents argue that it saves energy, promotes outdoor leisure activity that’s good for physical and psychological health, helps reduce crime and is good for business.

If and when there’s a decision on DST, it should be a joint decision rather than one state “going it alone.”

If Diamond is insistent about promoting his idea, he should first convince officials of other states to join him.

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