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British Columbia Washington mulls abolishing daylight savings, B.C. will not follow

Electric Time Co. employee Walter Rodriguez cleans the face of an 84-inch Wegman clock at the plant in Medfield, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008. Washington State lawmakers have proposed a bill that, if passed, could mean a change in time zones driving south to Seattle from Vancouver.

Elise Amendola/AP

Washington State lawmakers have proposed a bill that, if passed, could mean a change in time zones driving south to Seattle from Vancouver.

State Representative Elizabeth Scott, a Republican from Monroe, told a House committee this week that some constituents had contacted her, "annoyed at the twice-annual ritual of springing forward and falling back." She says she then looked into the issue and learned that the spring and fall time changes, and associated sleep disruptions, have been linked to negative health impacts, including work accidents and car crashes.

"I started wondering: Why are we still doing this?" Ms. Scott said in an interview on Thursday.

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Ms. Scott is proposing a bill, co-sponsored by three other representatives, that would do away with daylight saving time. Arizona and Hawaii are the only two states not to recognize the practice, though several other states are mulling its abolition as well.

The committee is expected to vote on Ms. Scott's bill in coming weeks. However, even if Washington State does do away with daylight saving time, British Columbia has no plans to follow suit.

"Daylight saving time is used in most jurisdictions in North America," read a statement from B.C.'s Ministry of Justice. "A majority of people are in favour of shifting an hour of daylight to the evening throughout the spring and summer months, and it's more convenient for businesses and travellers if B.C. changes its clocks in conjunction with other provinces and U.S. states."

Daylight saving time was adopted after a provincewide plebiscite in 1952; however, the government does not require adherence to it. The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, for example, in December voted to align itself with communities in the Peace River Regional District, which is on Mountain Standard Time year-round and does not observe daylight saving time.

Some studies have backed up Ms. Scott's concerns about the negative health impacts of the time change. A 2010 report on daylight saving time's effect on Britain's road safety, for example, found a 2.6-per-cent rise in the crash rate in the days following the time changes.

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. has tried to compile its own statistics, but there were too many variables – primarily weather – to collect meaningful data, spokesman Adam Grossman said Thursday. However, an ICBC survey of drivers found that about one-third felt less alert immediately after the time change.

"The biggest impacts of the time change can be felt on some of the key skills that affect the quality of our driving: poorer concentration, alertness behind the wheel and reaction time to potential hazards," Mr. Grossman said.

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Ms. Scott said she received about 100 phone calls from constituents about the bill on Wednesday alone.

"I have been very surprised – just amazed – by the response," she said. "It seems to have touched a nerve."

In the United States, the Golf Alliance for Utah has claimed that unplayed rounds due to earlier nightfall would result in $24-million in losses annually. Lawmakers in that state voted against a change on Wednesday, saying more research was needed to determine its possible impacts. Two other bills related to daylight saving time remain on the table in Utah.

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