The five advantages of daylight saving time


When I was in college I took an English class called “Time in 20th Century Literature.” It was a great class in which we waxed poetic about things such as whether time is cyclical or linear and how one’s perception of time may vary based on changing circumstances.

There was an assumption underlying most of these interesting, if not largely theoretical, discussions – that one cannot “beat time.” That regardless of how one outwardly characterizes or inwardly perceives time, it marches on. A more pedestrian way of putting this is that all of the Botox and hair dye in the world will do nothing to prevent or even slow the flipping of calendar pages.

But this is, of course, not true.

Every year I “spring forward” into a world of more light – at least at night. For anyone who has experienced the joy associated with the simple pleasure of an evening walk thanks to a “late” sunset, you know very well that you are, even temporarily, winning against time’s relentless march forward.

This is why I read Assemblyman Kansen Chu’s proposal to abolish daylight saving time with such dismay. Luckily Chu’s proposal would have to pass the Legislature and then be placed on the ballot to be approved by a vote of the people, so it is far from a done deal.

As we debate this topic, I offer up just a few advantages of daylight saving time.

First, it may very well help our physical and psychological health. Shifting our daylight hours to later in the day during the spring and summer allows us to maximize our daylight hours and spend more time outside. Simply put, we can spend more hours on outdoor activities and less time indoors. This tends to increase exercise and decrease depression. So daylight saving time may make us happier and healthier. Case closed?

Second, it may help the economy. More sales, particularly for goods associated with outside activities and sporting equipment, happen during daylight saving time than standard time.

Third, studies indicate that it may reduce crime because more crime happens in the dark. This is an unmitigated good.

Fourth, studies demonstrate that daylight saving time reduces traffic accidents as people are less likely to drive in the dark when accidents are more likely.

Finally, daylight saving time brings with it the promises of summer – outside barbecues, pool parties, lemonade stands, campfires and, more generally, more freedom.

For those who find it onerous to change their clocks twice each calendar year, I offer a simple solution – let us remain, always, on daylight saving time. There is much to say on this topic, but as our lawmakers consider Chu’s depressing proposal, I would simply urge them to pick light over darkness.

Jessica A. Levinson is a professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. She blogs at Follow her on Twitter @LevinsonJessica.