34 States Want to Make Daylight Saving Time Permanent, Eliminate Standard Time

clock in bed dst
The clocks jump forward an hour Sunday morning local time for Daylight Saving Time. Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is set to commence at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, when the time across the country will "spring forward" one hour, reigniting the debate on whether we should continue to change our clocks twice a year.

So why do we?

The U.S. Department of Transportation adopted Daylight Saving Time into law under the Uniform Time Act in 1966. The department's website lists three reasons why Daylight Saving Time is observed.

The first reason is to save energy. The Transportation Department states that since the sun will set one hour later in the evening, then the need to use lighting in the home is reduced. The federal agency also says that the time change "saves lives and prevents traffic injuries," since the additional hour of sunlight allows more individuals time to commute from school or work, or to complete errands, before sunset.

The final reason, according to the Transportation Department, is that DST reduces crime since most people would be "conducting their offers during the daylight" after they leave work or school instead of in the dark of night, when most crime is committed.

Opponents of DST argue that studies show there is an increase in car accidents, heart attacks, and even suicides in the days after the change occurs.

However, nine states have passed legislation since 2018 that makes DST permanent. But those states need approval from the federal government before their bills can go into effect, since the time change is a federal mandate. While states can elect not to participate in DST, they cannot enact laws forgo the 'fall back' by one hour to standard time in November without Congress changing the Uniform Time Act of 1996.

This year, lawmakers in Utah and South Carolina saw bills for permanent DST pass through the legislative process. In Utah's case, the bill is awaiting the signature of Governor Gary Herbert. Meanwhile, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed the bill for the Palmetto State in January.

Maryland is the latest state to propose a change to permanent DST. Republican State Senator Justin Ready spoke before the Maryland Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and explained that "making the change would be beneficial to public safety and economic activity—and that 'folks like' having the extra hour of daylight in the evening," according to WTOP.

Ready said that passing his bill would be "a signal to the federal government" to allow states to make these changes.

Since 2019, 25 states have introduced bills to adopt DST year-round. However, some states with proposals for permanent DST also have bills calling for them not to observe it, filed by other lawmakers.

Ready told Washington D.C.'s WMAL radio show Mornings on the Mall Friday that the opposition to his bill include the press and broadcasting associations in D.C. and Maryland. That is because it would make it more difficult to give viewers a time to tune in to a specific program, given possible varying times on the East Coast if the bill was to be implemented. He also stated that there is "concern from some parent groups that they want to be sure their kids are not getting on the bus in the dark"—an argument the state senator said he did not buy.

"To me, I understand the idea that the federal government doesn't want just one state randomly doing it," Ready said. "If my bill passes, it won't make Maryland automatically switch. It will send a message to the federal government that we want to be part of a group of states that want to switch."

Four other states—Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Oklahoma—have submitted bills asking to be exempt from Daylight Saving Time and would not need federal approval to enact the exemption if passed by their respective state lawmakers. Arizona has never adopted Daylight Saving Time.