Daylight Savings Time

In the United States and Europe there are two time periods, Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time. Time is no longer measured by the position of the sun by sundials.

Humankind measured time based on the position of the sun for many millenniums. Well into the Middle Ages sundials were used as a means of telling time until mechanical clocks appeared. Town clocks were set by measuring the position of the sun, however in every town and city the time would be slightly different. In the U.S. most cities and towns use some form of local solar time displayed by a well-known clock as a church steeple or a clock in a jeweler's window. Standard time began in Great Britain. Standard time in the U.S. and Canada was partially implemented in 1883 when railroads used time zones to standardize schedules. The Standard Time Act of 1918 adopted the standard time zones set up by the railroads to bring about practical advantages for communications and travel in the United States.

Spring - clocks are set forward one hour. Fall - clocks are set back one hour.

Today, Daylight Saving Time begins for most of the United States at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of April. It is changed in each of the time zones across the U. S. Time reverts back to standard time at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday of October. Daylight Saving Time has been used in the United States and many European countries since World War I. It was adopted in 1918 when Congress placed the country on Daylight Saving Time to conserve energy and resources for the war effort. Between World War I and World War II some states and communities continued to observe Daylight Saving Time. Congress enacted The Uniform Time Act of 1966 and Daylight Saving Time became observed nationally.

Even though Congress enacted the law, the law does not require that Daylight Saving Time be observed. It only states that if is observed then Daylight Savings Time must be done so uniformly. In the U.S. and its territories the following do not observe Daylight Saving Time: Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, The Eastern Time Zone portion of the State of Indiana, and most of Arizona with the exception of the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona.

During the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, Congress placed the United States on an extended Daylight Saving Time for two years. In 1974 it lasted ten months and in 1975 for eight months. Afterwards, a myriad of studies revealed that Daylight Saving Time had these positive advantages. 1) Energy savings - during 1974-1975 months of Daylight Saving Time 10,000 barrels of oil were saved each day for a total of 600,000 in each of those years. 2) Daylight Saving Time prevents traffic accidents and saves lives - time for traveling to and from school and work was done during daylight. Fewer accidents happen during daylight hours. 3) Crime decreased - more errands and chores were completed during daylight hours and seemed to reduce exposure to various crimes that are more commonly committed in darkness than in daylight.

Congress and President Reagan changed Daylight Saving Time. In 1986, Regan signed Public Law 99-359, changing Daylight Saving Time from the last Sunday in April to the First Sunday in April. No changes were made to the ending date which still remains at the last Sunday in October.

Time is money and turning it back and forth has impact on many industries. Candy industry associations have been lobbying to extend Daylight Saving Time past October 31, Halloween. Halloween is one of the biggest candy-giving holidays. An extra hour of daylight could result in millions of extra dollars in candy sales. The Barbecue Industry Association estimates that the extra hour of sunshine for a few weeks each year is worth over $30 million each year in sales. Organization fighting blindness supports more daylight because an extra hour of daylight is one more hour of eyesight.

Daylight Saving Time is observed in 70 countries worldwide. The 1996 European Union (EU) standardized EU-wide "summertime period" even though most countries were observing it long before 1996. EU Daylight Saving Time starts the last Sunday in March and ends the last Sunday in October. In lower latitudes where the daylight hours are similar during every season, there is no need to move time forward and back, therefore, equatorial and tropical countries don't participate in the EU Daylight Saving Time.

Daylight Saving Time differs around the world. Consult World Time Zone or World Time on the Web.

A final note, Daylight Saving Time is singular not plural (Daylight Savings Time). Daylight is being saved therefore it is singular.

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