The mainland United States will catch up with the U.S. Virgin Islands as clocks spring forward one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday for the start of daylight saving time.
Most areas of the United States observe daylight saving time, with the exceptions being Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the USVI.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the United States has observed daylight saving time since 1918, which was further codified with the Uniform Time Act of 1966 and the creation of the federal Department of Transportation, which regulates the practice.
“Time zones were introduced by the major railroad companies in 1883 to resolve confusion and avoid train crashes caused by different local times. As the United States entered World War I in 1918, the government delegated time zone supervision to the federal organization in charge of railroad regulation — the Interstate Commerce Commission. The new concept of DST was also overseen by the ICC to assist in the war effort. Initially introduced by Germany during the war to conserve fuel and power by extending daylight hours, the United States soon followed suit,” according to the bureau.
After World War I, daylight saving time was nationally abolished but allowed to continue on a state-by-state basis, according to the bureau. “As a result, confusion and collisions caused by different local times once again became a transportation issue. In 1966, the Department of Transportation was founded to serve as a ‘focal point of responsibility for transportation safety’ and given regulatory power over time zones and DST,” the website states.
Daylight saving time was thus implemented uniformly across the nation, with dates for the twice-yearly transitions set by law, according to the bureau. This still holds true today, and with the exception of Arizona and Hawaii and the overseas territories, every state must continue to observe DST between March and November, unless otherwise exempted by state law.
Despite more than 50 years of nearly uniform observance since 1966, 29 states introduced legislation between 2015 and 2019 to abolish the twice-yearly switching of clocks, according to the bureau.
“In May 2019, for example, Tennessee and Washington’s governors signed bills to extend DST year-round. Several states in New England made similar proposals with one additional condition: they will only change to year-round DST if their neighboring states do the same, thereby avoiding the economic and transportation repercussions of neighboring states having different local times. The authority to change DST, however, ultimately lies with the Department of Transportation, a power it has held since its foundation in 1966,” the Bureau of Transportation Statistics states.
Daylight saving time will end on Sunday, Nov. 6, when clocks will be set back one hour.
In the USVI, the switch in the spring to daylight saving time means the territory is back in sync with mainland business hours, televised sports and other programming.