By Letter to the Editor on March 27, 2021.
The delay of one hour for sunrise in the winter by staying on daylight savings time throughout the year would have at least three negative impacts.
First, the commute to school would be more dangerous as most commutes would now be done in darkness from about mid-November to mid-February. Snow, sleet and fog would add to the danger making it more difficult for drivers to see bundled up, cold, inattentive kids through frosted up windows walking to school or to a bus stop. Icy sidewalks and roads would be more difficult to navigate resulting in more falls. Transporting in a vehicle, whether driven by a parent or high school student, or a school bus, is also more dangerous, especially with unpredictable wildlife possibly bolting onto the road. Arriving at school is a concern as there is so much traffic with students arriving by vehicles or buses and some on foot. This particularly applies to high school student parking lots. Younger students arriving early typically use the playground, which would be more dangerous in the dark.
A second negative impact is delaying the energy boost from sunshine. Sunlight increases the amount of serotonin in the body, which is often referred to as the happy hormone. This gives children more energy to get up and out the door, making it easier for parents, but also puts them in a better frame of mind to start learning when morning classes begin. The earlier children are exposed to sunlight the better.
A third negative impact is on people’s energy and sleep/wake cycle. Many people would be waking up in darkness for the winter months. Research has found that waking up to daylight helps you wake up, can give you more energy through the day, and can establish a better sleep/wake cycle, which will help you fall asleep at night (Information from National Sleep Foundation).
Some point out an extra hour of daylight later in the day would give children the opportunity to play outside, but this is unlikely to happen to any degree for a number of reasons. First, kids don’t seem to play outside as much they use to, especially in winter weather. Second, the daylight would be during suppertime, and third, many kids take part in planned activities in the early evening.
Overall having early sunrise in winter is more beneficial than an extra hour daylight later in the day.