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States Accelerate Trend Toward Permanent Daylight Time

By Jim Reed | Nov. 5, 2021 | State Legislatures News | Print

This weekend, most Americans and others across the globe will turn clocks back one hour as daylight saving time officially ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7. The exceptions are those places that stay on standard time year-round, namely Arizona (except the Navajo Nation), Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Adjusting clocks ahead or back to accommodate the coming and going of daylight saving time is opposed, even despised, by majorities in various recent surveys. In response over the past five years, virtually every state legislature considered bills and resolutions, some 350 in all, to enact permanent daylight time or permanent standard time.

Adjusting clocks ahead or back to accommodate the coming and going of daylight saving time is opposed, even despised, by majorities in various recent surveys.

The 2021 legislative session was no exception: At least 33 states introduced 80 pieces of legislation addressing daylight saving time. Six states enacted legislation to provide for year-round daylight time: Alabama, Georgia, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi and Montana. That makes a total of 19 states since 2018 that have enacted legislation or passed resolutions to apply year-round daylight time. The 19 states include California, where the passage of Proposition 7 in 2018 endorsed permanent daylight time in 2018, but the Legislature still must act.

The caveat is that federal law does not currently allow year-round daylight time, so these state actions are contingent on congressional action to allow such a change.

Action at Federal Level?

Federal law allows a state to exempt itself from observing daylight saving time, upon action by the state legislature, to stay on standard time. The U.S. Department of Transportation, which is responsible for overseeing daylight time and the country’s time zones, must be notified if a state passes legislation to stay on standard time year-round.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators in March reintroduced the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, S 623, which would make daylight time permanent across the country. (HR 69 is the companion bill in the House.) Another bill, the Daylight Act (HR 214), would allow states to observe daylight time for the duration of the year. No significant legislative activity has occurred on any of these bills to date. Two members of Congress from Alabama have stated their intent to introduce legislation to allow states to keep daylight time year-round.

Going into the new year, state legislators will continue to grapple with this vexing and multifaceted state policy question. For the latest information on state legislative activity on time zone issues, see NCSL’s daylight saving time webpage.

Jim Reed directs NCSL’s Environment, Energy and Transportation Program.

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