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THE ARGUMENT

Should Massachusetts switch to keeping daylight saving time the whole year?

YES

Tom Emswiler

Quincy resident, public health advocate and former congressional aide.

Tom Emswiler
Tom Emswiler(handout)

Isn’t it great? The dark 4:11 p.m. sunsets from December are starting to become a distant memory. And on Sunday, March 10, we’ll spring forward one hour for a 6:44 p.m. sunset.

What if I told you that we didn’t have to regress to dark Decembers anymore? That was the focus of a state commission I served on: to examine whether we should keep changing the clocks twice a year, or if we should make daylight saving time year-round. We voted 9-1 to endorse a thoughtful, planned move to keep summer time all the time. It already has a name: Atlantic Standard Time.

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Our commission met several times in 2017, hearing from witnesses across the country about the impacts of Massachusetts’ twice-a-year clock change. We found that eliminating the spring clock transition — and the sleep disruption it entails — would reduce workplace injuries, improve productivity, and reduce heart attacks and traffic accidents. And it could potentially save energy and reduce crime.

But Massachusetts cannot act alone. The bill resulting from the commission’s work — filed by state Senator John Keenan, a Quincy Democrat, in collaboration with me — would require our Commonwealth to petition the federal government for Atlantic Standard Time, but only after Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island have all agreed to act in kind.

Maine and New Hampshire have both advanced bills to move their states to Atlantic Standard Time provided Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts act together. New Hampshire’s bill passed the House only to be rejected by the Senate in 2017, but on Feb. 28 the House passed the measure again, moving it to the Senate. Maine’s bill passed both branches in 2017 but died by session’s end. Our commission’s findings could support the efforts in those states.

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Not all commission witnesses painted a rosy picture of one year-round time zone. The Massachusetts Broadcasters Association raised concerns that sports and other shows will be on television too late. I am optimistic that just as we view these shows across several time zones now, a solution can be reached to keep viewers.

We need to proceed thoughtfully, but we should join our neighboring states and convert to Atlantic Standard Time all year.

NO

Bill Fine

Wellesley resident; president and general manager of Boston’s WCVB-TV; former chair and current board member, Massachusetts Broadcasters Association

Bill Fine
Bill Fine(Faith Ninivaggi/WCVB Channel 5)

In recent years, some in Massachusetts have advocated for switching the state to Atlantic Standard Time in coordination with at least some other New England states. With that change, our biannual “changing of the clocks” would spring forward one last time and never again fall back. While the concept is intriguing — and who wouldn’t appreciate longer days during the winter — Massachusetts would be ill-advised to proceed in the absence of a national shift.

Adopting Atlantic Standard Time would put Massachusetts out of synch with East Coast states retaining Eastern Standard Time for those 18 weeks, and two to four hours ahead of other US time zones. Statewide or regional Atlantic Standard Time adoption would also disrupt commerce, trade, interstate transportation, and broadcasting, and negatively impact student safety, academic performance, and health. So while the topic is worthy of debate, a deeper dive reveals that the disadvantages of the state or region adopting Atlantic Standard Time would significantly outweigh the potential benefits.

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Without a delay in school start times students would have a darker and colder walk to school, or have to wait for the bus before sunrise, prompting safety and health concerns and possible increases in temperature-related school delays. Morning commuters would have to dig out their cars before sunrise, and battle reduced visibility during that period. Public transportation challenges, already acute in winter, would grow.

Although there may be more important issues, Boston’s sports fans would be calling foul. How willing would you be to watch Patriots games that start at 9:30 p.m., or Celtics and Bruins beginning between 9 and 11 p.m.? (Think how tired were you after Game 3 of last year’s World Series!). Absent a national change, all programming would likely shift by an hour, including the most popular live shows such as the Oscars. Beyond inconvenience, it would result in exhausted commuters, students, and employees, productivity losses, and suboptimal learning.

The only way to mitigate these — and many other negative impacts — would be a national time zone change, not a proposal which merely coordinates with neighboring states. While well intentioned, advocates should shift their focus toward national elimination of daylight savings time.

This is an informal poll, not a scientific survey. Please vote only once.


As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. To suggest a topic, please contact laidler@globe.com.