It’s been more than a month since clocks had to ‘spring forward’ for daylight saving time. Under a bill that cleared the North Carolina House this week, residents wouldn’t have to remember to ‘fall back’ during autumn.
Making daylight saving time permanent isn’t just something lawmakers in North Carolina are considering. Legislatures in more than a dozen states are studying it as well. The Washington state senate approved it this week. The Florida legislature OK'd it last year. Even President Trump tweeted he liked the idea last month. The North Carolina bill would make daylight saving permanent, but only after Congress gives its approval to allow states to make that call.
Supporters in North Carolina like Republican Representative Larry Pittman of Caburrus County argue shifting clocks forward is antiquated and costly – specifically in lost hours of production at work due to sleep-deprived employees. A 2014 study from the University of Colorado showed vehicle accidents nationally go up the week after clocks go forward in the spring, leading to a roughly 6% increase in related deaths. “I want to thank the bill sponsors for sending this forward, because I’ve been saying this for more years than I can count," Pittman said ahead of Tuesday's vote in Raleigh. "I hope we can get it done.”
The vote in the House was 85-27, with the measure receiving bipartisan support. But Democrats made up most of the opposition to the bill. Representative Ray Russell of Watauga County noted some rural students in his district get up at 5 a.m. to catch buses before 6 a.m. to get to school. “Sunrise on December 21st would be 8:34 in Boone, North Carolina. That means a student in daylight saving time in the middle of winter is going to have to spend 3 ½ hours in the dark before they ever see the light of day,” Russell said on the House floor Tuesday.
The bill now moves to the state Senate.