Kevin Brinegar: Another time debate is not time well spent

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DEBATE QShould Indiana move to the Central time zone?

BrinegarDo we really want the rest of the world to once again be asking the question: What time is it in Indiana?

With a variety of important workforce and economic development issues among those to be addressed in the 2019 Indiana General Assembly, do we really want Indiana legislators to spend their time debating time zones?

The answers: No and no.

The long overdue decision to observe daylight saving time came in 2005. During the DST debate, an overwhelming majority of businesses indicated a desire to remain in the Eastern time zone. Strong business connections to the East Coast and globally are among the reasons.

Before daylight saving time, 10 Indiana counties in the Cincinnati and Louisville areas unofficially observed DST due to their economic connections to those areas. That chaotic situation would certainly reoccur—with those counties “going Eastern”—if a time zone switch took place.

On the other hand, we support the 12 counties in the northwest and southwest portions of the state that currently operate under Central time (as most, if not all, did before DST). Those counties chose that determination based on their long-established economic ties. Any county along the time-zone dividing line can petition the U.S. Department of Transportation to change time zones—with several doing so after the Indiana DST move took effect.

In fact, six of the counties—Pulaski, Daviess, Dubois, Knox, Martin and Pike—that opted for the Central time zone in 2006 made the decision a year later to return to Eastern time.

What are some additional Eastern time zone advantages?

Lower crime rates and utility costs due to increased sunlight in the evening.

Additional opportunities for leisure activities.

Expanded business for restaurants serving patrons that prefer to sit outside.

School savings due to reduced lighting needs for outdoor sporting events.

Easier mobility for seniors that might be suffering from night vision difficulties.

The Fulton County accident that resulted in three young children being killed while waiting for their school bus in the morning was tragic. Unfortunately, distracted driving and/or ignoring the flashing lights and stop arm on a bus cannot be fixed by changing time zones. And such accidents happen throughout the day. Just this past week, a school bus carrying Pulaski County middle school students was rear-ended just after 9 a.m. at a railroad crossing and an eighth-grader lost his life.

Moving Indiana’s time zone would only shift any daylight challenge from morning to afternoon. Darkness at or near 4 p.m. would impact large numbers of teenagers driving home from school and buses transporting students following after-school activities.

Less daylight at the end of the day can also aggravate the “winter blues” and existing feelings of depression, leading to personal and employment problems.

For Indiana, a switch from the Eastern time zone would turn our daylight saving time choice to daylight losing time. We don’t need that.•

Click here for more Forefront columns.

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Brinegar is president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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