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EDITORIAL: Time waits for no one

At least the jingle to jog our memories is easy – spring forward, fall back. But the rest involved in changing our clocks by an hour twice a year is a royal pain, unnecessary and a risk to peoples health and safety.

At least coming up this weekend is the one a lot of people look forward to rather than dread. We gain an hour in fall switching from daylight saving time to standard time. For the partiers, that might mean staying up a little longer into the wee hours; for others, just an excuse to sleep in a bit longer on Sunday.

But what is really gained? Fewer and fewer are convinced its necessary; more and more saying lets stop this.

Saskatchewan is the most obvious exception to this practice, sticking with standard time year-round. The Alberta government recently looked at the idea of scrapping the change, but rejected it. But it gets more complicated. Parts of British Columbia and even some communities here and there also keep their clocks on standard time.

Apparently it can be done. It would be worth asking people in these areas whether they perceive any downsides or difficulties.

But certainly, the real negative point cited is the problems encountered in the spring, when people lose an hour of sleep – or realistically, need to adjust sleeping patterns to the change. Police characteristically report more accidents in the days following; many individuals complain of extra fatigue and difficulties performing their daily routines or work tasks.

The supposed savings – in energy costs, trying to match lighting and other energy use when more people are up and about – dont match the reality of a world where people work, play and sleep wildly varying hours.

Elsewhere, a special commission in Massachusetts offered recommendations on the matter. It had been looking into the idea of ending the practice of moving clocks back and forth, but said the state shouldnt act on it unless most other northeast states participate.

A notable difference with this particular commission is that daylight savings was being considered for the year-round option.

As much as wed like, theres no way of stretching the sun-lit portion of a day in the dead of winter. Daylight Savings would mean the sun wouldnt set as early as 4-4:30 p.m. As commission members noted, it would give people shopping and on afternoon errands an extra hour of light, a little longer to get home after work before its dark.

But on the other end, it would not be a good idea for children walking to school or waiting for the bus to be out there in the morning twilight hours.

Most likely, if we see a continuing push to get rid of the clock adjustment, it would also mean jurisdictions debating which is the better option to choose. But apparently, with enough individuals, provinces and states batting this idea around, its something that should be discussed.

And as anything involving time, the sooner we get on this the better.

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