Warwick, RI — The second Sunday in March is approaching, and that means Daylight Saving Time takes effect, meaning clocks are moved ahead by one hour.
Like many quirky American traditions — running out in lightning storms with a key tied to a kite, for instance — DST started with Ben Franklin, who saw it as a way to make the best use of daylight hours [and it probably didn’t hurt that it provided him another hour of sleep in the dark].
DST has been moved around a bit, as well — President Lyndon Johnston signed the first official DST law in 1966 setting the spring date as the last Sunday in April, later changed to the first Sunday in April in 1986 and to its current spot in 2005, according to NASA.
Also like many longtime American practices, DST has its own history of oddities, including:
- A man once escaped the Vietnam draft by arguing that Delaware used standard time instead of DST to record birth times — and, since his birth time was just after DST, that his birth date was actually the day before the one the government listed as his draft date.
- Part of the reasoning behind the 2005 switch for the November “fall back” clock change was that it might prevent Halloween injuries if kids went trick-or-treating while it was still light.
- Moving the spring DST date back has had one major economic benefit, in oil savings. By some estimates, adding the entire month of April to DST saves some 300,000 barrels of oil.
- The one-hour time change in the spring means that between 2 and 3 a.m. on the first day of DST, no babies are born.
While most modern gadgets — cell phones, alarm clocks, some TVs — switch the time automatically, it’s still a good idea to change the times on other devices Saturday night before bedtime.
It’s also a good time to switch the batteries in smoke alarms and other devices.
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