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Florida weighs seceding from daylight saving time

Linda Robertson, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

"Florida took the lead and because of that pressure the second year of daylight saving time was repealed," Prerau said. "Today, one of the biggest cons (of daylight saving time) remains sunrise as late as 8:30 a.m. in parts of Florida, which means it would be pitch dark for school kids and early commuters. People do not like dark mornings and that's the main reason daylight saving time has not been adopted year-round."

Florida would be an hour ahead of New York City and Washington, D.C., not to mention the other major cities along the Eastern seaboard.

"The Eastern Time Zone is by far the biggest in the U.S. because areas want to be on the same time as our financial and political capitals," Prerau said. "Indiana was on standard time year-round, but companies hated the confusion and lost business because of it. Companies didn't want to locate to Indiana. And it was awkward for people living near the state borders."

Prerau has studied the impact of daylight saving time on traffic accidents and street crime, which both decreased; voter turnout, which increased; agricultural practices, religious groups and sports score reporting. He also found that people would stay awake an extra hour to watch their favorite TV programs, "which resulted in much more sleep loss than on the one day when clocks are set forward."

"Farmers are against daylight saving time because they have to interact with the rest of the nation and world," Prerau said. "Certain religious groups that meet for morning prayers after sunrise are opposed to it because if your meeting doesn't end until 8:30-9 a.m., it interferes with work."

Josh Liebman, a South Miami city commissioner and an avid runner, is in favor of daylight saving time.

"For morning runners in South Florida, it could be beneficial because it stays darker and cooler, although it's harder to wake up in the dark," he said. "The longer it stays light, the better it is for businesses because there are more people walking around, frequenting shops and restaurants."

Benjamin Franklin originated the concept of daylight saving time as a way to save candle wax. When he found he was oversleeping in Paris, he encouraged the French to fire off cannons at sunrise to awaken citizens so they could utilize more hours of daylight and reduce candle use. William Willett first proposed changing clocks in England in 1908, but Germany, seeking to save on energy costs during World War I, was the first country to enact the practice in 1915, followed by the U.S. and other nations in 1918. Winston Churchill was a proponent during World War II.

The U.S. has the longest period of daylight saving time -- almost eight months per year, and in 2007 it was nearly extended to nine. Most countries are on it for six months.

Massachusetts pre-dates Florida as a rogue state, implementing daylight saving time on its own in the 1920s under Gov. Calvin Coolidge. A group of residents challenged the law, and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in the state's favor. The state currently follows the national timetable.


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