Poll: Most Americans dislike twice-a-year clock changes

Most people across the country will see their clocks roll back an hour this weekend as nearly eight months of daylight saving time come to an end. It is part of a twice-a-year ritual that most want to stop.

Seven in 10 Americans prefer not to switch back and forth to mark daylight saving time, a new poll shows. But there’s no agreement on which time clocks ought to follow.

According to the new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 4 in 10 Americans would like to see their clocks stay on standard time year-round, while about 3 in 10 prefer to stay on daylight saving time. About another 3 in 10 prefer what is the status quo in most of the United States, switching back and forth between daylight saving time in the summer and standard time in the winter.

At least seven state legislatures have backed asking Congress to allow year-round daylight saving time in the past few years—and about 60% of California voters supported a ballot proposition last year calling for such a move.

Arguments about whether later sunsets or earlier sunrises are better for business or safety aren’t what matter to some people. Jason Oliver, a 43-year-old retired soldier from Rolla, Missouri, is among those who see the clock changes as just “messing things up” and he doesn’t really care which time gets picked.

“To me, I don’t see the need to keep flip flopping between times,” Oliver said.

The sun-splashed states of Hawaii and Arizona are the only ones where clocks won’t change at 2 a.m. local time Sunday, while most others have done the “spring forward” and “fall back” switches since Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966.

Indiana joined them for more than three decades as a time-change holdout until 2006 when legislators by a single vote approved a business-backed push to have all its counties observe daylight saving time.

Sue Dillon became a campaigner for changes to the state’s time choice after a teenager was fatally struck in 2009 while running to catch a school bus in the early morning darkness near her home in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel.

Dillon, a former junior high teacher, maintains Indiana’s current sunrise times of 8 a.m. or later during some of the fall and winter are unsafe for children and others walking along roadways. She’s campaigned for Indiana to switch from the Eastern time zone to Central so sunrises will come earlier — and believes year-round adoption of daylight saving time would be awful for people living on the western edges of the U.S. time zones.

“Sunrise at 9 in the morning?” Dillon said. “The problem is that the children are out when it is dangerous. That is absolutely inexcusable.”

That sunlight hours debate is already going on in much of the country.

Florida’s governor in March signed what was dubbed the “Sunshine Protection Act” to keep the Sunshine State on daylight saving time all year long, even though the Florida PTA warned it would endanger students. Supporters argued that winter sunsets about 6:30 p.m., rather than the current 5:30, could give an economic boost with tourists staying later at theme parks and beaches.

Alabama lawmakers have backed a resolution to “forever put an end to the deadly, energy-wasting, productivity-killing, twice-yearly changing of time.” Neighboring Tennessee has taken a similar stance.

Bills to ditch time changes have also passed in Oregon and Washington, so with the support of California’s voters the West Coast is fully on board with permanent daylight saving time.

Even President Donald Trump has weighed in, tweeting in March that making daylight saving time permanent is “O.K. with me!”

Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Vern Buchanan, both of Florida, have introduced measures in Congress to make daylight saving time permanent nationwide but no action has been taken on them.

The AP-NORC poll found about 4 in 10 Americans ages 45 and over prefer permanent daylight saving, compared with about 2 in 10 of those younger. The younger group is more likely than the older to prefer either standard time year round (44% to 36 or switching back and forth (33% to 24%).

The twice-a-year clock changes don’t bother Chantelle Breaux, a 34-year-old stay-at-home mom from Lafayette, Louisiana.

Breaux said people know what to expect and that the common complaint about being tired after losing an hour’s sleep when time “springs forward” are exaggerated. She said she focuses on proper bedtimes for her 9- and 12-year-old children regardless of the sunrise and sunset times.

“Mother nature is not on human time so it’s going to be lighter if it wants to be lighter,” Breaux said. “You are not really losing anything.”

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: IBJ is now using a new comment system. Your Disqus account will no longer work on the IBJ site. Instead, you can leave a comment on stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Past comments are not currently showing up on stories, but they will be added in the coming weeks. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

4 thoughts on “Poll: Most Americans dislike twice-a-year clock changes

  1. Another factor to this issue is when should DST begin and end. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended DST from the last Sunday in October to the first Sunday in November. The purpose was to save energy but research shows it was not effective. Congress should change it back – school kids waiting for the bus are more important than accommodating theme parks or golfers.

  2. I would like standard time all year round or have us be in the central time zone. It just seems more natural to me and in line with my own clock, however I can live with whatever change we decide as long as we stop the switching back and forth. It’s an only an hour, but has a long lasting effect in spring for me. Whatever we do I hope we stay on par with the rest of the country. I remember the days of “what time is it there” when conducting business and I don’t want to go back to those days!

    1. I fail to see where changing the time by one hour-twice a year, and on a weekend, no less!- would have any effect on anyone. There are any number of occasions during the year where your sleep schedule is disrupted (illness, a child’s illness, travel/vacation, severe weather); your body deals with it.
      As far as knowing “what time is it there?” you will always have that due to time zones.

  3. We also no longer follow the same calendar for WHEN to change as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere (who mostly did it last weekend). The Southern Hemisphere (opposite seasons…) uses entirely different dates. It’s complete nonsense!

    Abolish DST. Also – WHO CARES which time zone we’re in? That isn’t a fight worth having. The schedules of schools are set by districts, not the State, and businesses can change their hours however they like… We can all agree to put our schedules where they ought to be and stop screwing with the clocks!