When Congress gets back to work it will have before it a bill sponsored by Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Carlos J. Moorhead (R-Glendale) to give the country another month of daylight-saving time. Let's hear it for the Ayes.
Daylight-saving time currently stretches from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October. Under the bill, clocks would be set an hour ahead on the first Sunday in April, and back an hour on the first Sunday in November.
The potential nationwide benefits of 30 more hours of evening daylight far outweigh the potential disadvantages of 30 more hours of morning darkness. During daylight-saving time there are fewer crimes and traffic accidents, less energy is consumed and more leisurely walks are taken at sunset than during the same hours of standard time. Another month of those conditions couldn't hurt. It might even stimulate the economy, because people would have an extra hour of daylight for shopping.
The American Farm Bureau Federation leads the opposition to the bill, claiming that later sunrises make the work of farmers more difficult and endanger children waiting for schoolbuses or walking to school in rural areas.
These concerns are legitimate, but for children they are exaggerated. Because April has the earliest sunrises, schoolchildren would not face mornings that are darker or colder than those during any other part of daylight-saving time, and a study by the Department of Transportation has shown that the risk of accidents would not increase with an extension of daylight-saving time.
Rita Walters, president of the Los Angeles school board, says that she has never heard any opposition to daylight-saving time from concerned parents or school officials here. She said that her schools would be ready for daylight-saving time at the beginning of April, and that an extra week in the fall would do no harm. Several school officials around the country commented that many schools now operate on split sessions and send children home in the dark during standard time. Additional daylight-saving time would help in those situations.
For us, the clincher is that Halloween would come during daylight-saving time, giving children an extra hour of light for going door to door. How can Congress pass up the chance to hand everybody a treat like that?