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Friday, March 31, 2006

Daylight Saving Time - Crime, Larks, and Energy

This Sunday, clocks go forward at 2:00am in most of the U.S. The biannual clock-changing has been marked by controvery since it was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784. Many late-night revelers feel cheated of an hour's drinking time. This has lead to Time Change Saturday riots in Athens Ohio, witnessing skirmishes between armed police and rowdy students.

However, the general trend is that Daylight Saving Time reduces crime. One study in Washington DC found a 10 to 13 per cent decrease in violent crime. This is due to lighter evenings, making crime more detectable.

Unfortunately, there is a downside for 'larks' — those who naturally wake early. They are genetically more aware of light and will have a harder time adjusting.

Finally, this is the last year that clocks 'spring forward' on the first Sunday of April. From 2007, the time change will occur on the second Sunday of March, with a corresponding alteration in the Fall. This is in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which hopes to give a 1 to 2 per cent saving in household energy use by reducing the need for electric lighting in the evenings.


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