Should Daylight Saving Time Be Eliminated or Made Permanent? Another Clash between Scientific Evidence and Politics

Elizabeth Klerman, Harvard Medical School
Charles Czeisler
, Harvard Medical School 

Many countries around the world change their local clock times between Daylight Saving Time (DST) and Standard Time (ST). These changes are overwhelmingly unpopular. In the USA, the federal Department of Transportation (which is responsible for the policy) promotes DST based on energy, safety, and crime reasons, using outdated statistics to justify all three. In 2018, 2019 and now 2021, the Sunshine Protection Act has been introduced to Congress to make DST permanent; this change would be consistent with legislation passed by multiple states. Recent published studies by multiple scientists and analysts, however, have revealed adverse effects on energy usage, safety, crime, health, and education of both the annual switch between ST and DST in the spring and of permanent DST (pDST)(compared to permanent Standard Time [pST]). To date, however, there has not been a meeting of relevant stakeholders to discuss approaches and strategies for making progress on aligning DST-related evidence, public opinion, and policy.

We propose a 1.5-day workshop with participants from legislative and executive branches, energy, safety, business, economics, communications, health, and education sectors. We will begin with presentations from the participants about the advantages and disadvantages of either permanent pST or pDST. Each presentation will be followed by discussions about what additional information is needed in that topic area. The second day will include multiple targeted discussions about directions needed (e.g., statements from business, medical, and educational organizations, new reports) to progress toward aligning science, public opinion, and political forces on this issue.