Thursday, November 6, 2014

COMMENTARY: Kansas Legislature should enact Year-Round Daylight Saving Time


KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- A question for my fellow Kansans: Do you like it when it gets dark outside by 5:00 p.m. during the fall and winter months?

Assuming there are no vampires in the State of Kansas, I'm in belief that most of you would say no.
And for those who don't like this set-up, it doesn't have to be this way.

The federal government allows states to opt out of the current Daylight Saving Time time switch. Currently, the great states of Hawaii and Arizona do not switch their clocks back and forth.

The Kansas Legislature should make Kansas the third state to opt out of the federal government's requirement.

While there are more important issues the Kansas Legislature will debate next year, this is an issue that would help all Kansans, whether they are Republicans, Democrats or in my case, a libertarian.

Along with more sunshine, there are practical and common sense reasons to have daylight saving time all year round.

1. Going to daylight saving time all year could save lives on the road. 

Many studies over the years (including this one) indicate that night-time driving is significantly more dangerous than driving in daylight. Also, common sense tells you it's better to drive in daylight than night-time.

Extending daylight saving time to winter would allow evening commuters - which includes workers and students who stay after school - to reach home when there's still light outside. Also, if you live in an area near woods, there is the potential to hit a deer while driving. If you live in Wyandotte County, just drive down Leavenworth Road near Wyandotte County Lake and into the Piper community once in a while.

Now, I certainly understand that with an extra hour of daylight in the evening comes an extra hour of darkness in the morning. Some commuters would have to drive to work in the night depending on the hours. But I think most would exchange a little darker morning if it meant a little lighter evening. Keeping that extra hour of daylight would be worth the extra hour of darkness in the morning.

2. Extended daylight could reduce energy costs

In a study done by the California Energy Commission, having the extended hour of daylight during the winter months would reduce energy costs in California by 3.4 percent. It wouldn't lead to a revolution and wouldn't be a long-term solution for our energy situation in Kansas, but any little bit counts. An extra hour of daylight during winter could lead to lower energy costs. And guess what? It wouldn't cost the taxpayers' anything to help reduce energy in this case. It would just take passing a bill.

3. Crime could be reduced with extended daylight in the afternoon and evening hours

This study indicates that the lowest peak for crime in most cities is between the 3 a.m. - 7 a.m. hours. Outside of that time frame, crime happens around the clock, so not all crime could go away. But most violent crimes happen when it's night outside. Extending daylight saving time to winter would keep the 3-7 a.m. period dark while keeping the afternoon and evening hours lighter.

There are many other reasons to point out, but everyone would win with extended daylight saving time during the winter. Commuters would win. Students staying after school would win. Businesses would win with that extra hour of daylight during the evening hours. The environment wins with less energy being used. Those of us who like to exercise outside or walk the dog after work would benefit from this during the winter hours.

While most issues debated in the legislature have different sides, this is one we all can agree with it.

It's time for the Kansas Legislature to make it happen. Keep the sun shining in Kansas!