A commission in Massachusetts is considering a permanent switch from the Eastern Time Zone to the Atlantic Time Zone — a move that would preserve more evening daylight in the winter months, could lead to economic and health benefits, and may cut back on crime according to a Cornell University economist.
Nicholas Sanders, an assistant professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, has studied the effects of daylight on crime. He says an extra hour of sun can curtail the number of robberies.
“Our research on street crime suggests having that extra hour of daylight during the evening helps reduce robberies, likely because the time when people are out on the street after school or work is better lit, and street crime is less likely in periods of greater visibility. But there is the cost of having children wake up and go to school in the dark for more of the year. There are safety concerns, and research suggests light plays a large role in our sleep patterns, which could make for tired kids early in the school day during the darker months.
“Many of the problems of Daylight Saving Time are about the transition period. On the days following the change in our clocks, people’s sleep rhythms are off, and there is an increase in traffic accidents, work accidents and evidence of negative health impacts too. Moving away from a Daylight Saving Time system would mean reducing the scheduling, physical, and psychological costs of the ‘spring forward’ and ‘fall back’ periods. Research on time use suggests people are more likely to go outside for longer periods of time and exercise more when there are more hours of light in the evening, which means a move to a permanent Daylight Saving Time could have additional health benefits.
“However, if nearby states move to a permanent zone shift but New York does not, it will increase the costs of doing business across state lines. Time coordination plays a large role in both business related and social activities.”