It is that time of the year again: fall back for daylight savings.
This year, however, one of America’s states is considering adopting an extra hour of daylight — permanently.
A Massachusetts commission produced a draft report suggesting that the state move an hour ahead for the entire year — essentially moving the state into the Atlantic Time Zone, instead of the Eastern Time Zone.
If this report receives enough votes this month, the report will then be sent on to lawmakers to inform future bills.
While federal law only allows states to opt out of daylight savings, the commission could justify their desires to switch time zones with enough data.
By shifting to the Atlantic Time Zone, Massachusetts would be aligned with Puerto Rico and some eastern Canadian provinces.
Citing economic and health benefits, the commission also notes that it would be beneficial if other New England states were to follow suit.
For example, in some parts of Maine, the sun sets around four in the afternoon. Even so, a bill which suggested moving to the Atlantic Time Zone recently failed in Maine.
Maine’s bill, as well as Massachusetts’, had amendments to the failed bill that stated that Maine would shift ahead an hour if both New Hampshire and Massachusetts did the same.
Historically, daylight-saving time was a huge benefit to farmers who were able to take advantage of the extra hour of sunlight.
Now, this benefit turns to one of safety. Massachusetts suggests that switching ahead an hour permanently could lower traffic deaths usually associated with spring forward.
The drawbacks to such a switch must also be considered.
For example, by moving an hour ahead, children would be walking to school when it is still dark year-round, which could produce risks The commission’s report considers pushing back school start times to lessen the risk of having children walking in the dark.
The biggest question is still whether or not other states in New England will go with Massachusetts, if the report is accepted and the bill is passed, to a new time zone.
Otherwise, this would raise a myriad of concerns and questions.
If Massachusetts were the only state to switch, this could lead to issues with travelers going to and from the state.
Flights would have to be reorganized to accommodate Massachusetts’ Atlantic Time Zone, and casual drivers coming from a state away will have to note the changed time.
Furthermore, this could have potential drawbacks on retailers and stock exchange, with the time changing an hour ahead in just one state.
Businesses that work across the country from Massachusetts would have to make major adaptations to accommodate just one state switching to a new time zone.
If the Massachusetts’ commission’s report passes, and if the bill passes, then it should stress the caveat that other New England states join with the switch.
Otherwise, Massachusetts switch to a new time zone will just be, quite frankly, clunky and awkward, and could lead to some major confusion.