The Nation: Daylight Disaster Time?

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When Congress imposed year-round Daylight Saving Time on the nation, the idea was to cut down on energy consumption. Whether that has actually happened is still being widely debated, but the shift to an earlier rising period has already had one disturbing result — the danger that school-bound youngsters face from predawn auto drivers. In Florida, eight children died in early morning traffic accidents after the time change took place early in January; there were two such deaths during the same period in 1973. "Daylight Saving Time in the winter," said one TV commentator, "has proven to be Daylight Disaster Time."

Summoning the Florida legislature into special session, Governor Reubin Askew proposed returning immediately to Eastern Standard Time in most of the state (the northwestern Florida pan handle is in the Central time zone). Said Askew: "Any amount of disruption in commerce would be small indeed when compared to the life of even a single child."

Some legislators favored the move, others felt that throwing most of the state out of line with the rest of the Eastern Seaboard would disrupt the airline, television and other industries. More over, the action might be ruled a violation of federal law, which permits exemptions only if a state Governor applies to the President on the grounds of undue hardship or energy loss. In the end, the legislature as a whole took no action, but several members of Florida's congressional delegation have introduced bills in the House and Senate to repeal D.S.T.