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Sunrise over D.C., as seen from Arlington (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, when clocks “fall back” by one hour and we gain an extra hour of sleep (well, those without kids at least).

There’s a possibility that this could be the last end to Daylight Saving Time.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill earlier this year that would make DST permanent next year, though it’s currently stalled in the House. Should it pass, we would “spring forward” on Sunday, March 12, 2023 and stay there permanently.

Arlingtonians prefer permanent DST, and an overwhelming majority want the twice-yearly times changes to end, but it’s not unanimous.

In November 2012, 43% of ARLnow readers said they were sad about the annual end of Daylight Saving Time, compared to 29% who said they were happy about it. In March, 59% of poll respondents said they support year-round DST, compared to 28% who prefer year-round standard time and 13% who want to keep things as-is.

As with most things in life, there’s a trade-off involved with making DST permanent. As the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang points out, in the western parts of time zones winter sunrises under permanent DST would be pushed out past 9 a.m., and in some northern areas even past 10 a.m.

More eastern and southern portions of time zones will have more moderate sunrise and sunset times. The D.C. area, for instance, would have its latest sunrise at 8:27 a.m. and its earliest sunset at 5:45 p.m., according to the Post.

All things considered, if this is the last time setting the clocks back, would you have any regrets or second thoughts about it?

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The U.S. Congress may be mulling permanent daylight saving time, but Arlington Public Schools is not holding its breath.

Last week, the Senate passed a bill to make daylight saving time permanent and end the biannual tradition of changing clocks to “spring forward” and “fall back.” Should the shift clear the House of Representatives and the White House, it would take effect next year.

Sticking to one time year-round has relatively broad support among Americans, businesses and health experts, but there is disagreement over whether daylight saving time, which is used from March to November, or standard time, used for the remainder of the year, would be better.

It appears some House members, surprised by the move, are trying to stop the clock until more research is done.

Although timely, the national debate will not factor into a review of bell times in Arlington Public Schools. The school system is instead considering how to modify start and end times to add ten minutes of instruction to the school day for all grade levels and streamline start and end times.

“Currently, there are 8 different start/end times; the goal is to reduce them to three (or no more than four) for the 2022-23 School Year,” according to a webpage for the study. “By reducing the number of start/end times, APS aims to optimize transportation services and identify efficiencies that will improve APS operations, streamline school bus routes and schedules, and reduce costs.”

APS has come up with five different scenarios — with start and end times varying by school building and grade level — but no scenario include adjustments for a potentially permanent daylight saving time, we’re told.

“APS has not considered any additional options outside of the five scenarios posted on our webpage,” spokesman Frank Bellavia said. “We are soliciting input on five different scenarios with start times ranging from 7:30 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. and end times of 2:20 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.”

Currently, school starts between 7:50 a.m. and 9:24 a.m. and ends between of 2:24 p.m. and 4:06 p.m.

APS is encouraging students, their family members and staff to respond to surveys with their preferred start and end times by this coming Monday (March 28). The surveys also gauge what respondents like or dislike about earlier and later start times.

The responses will figure into a final recommendation, made by a group of APS employees and parents. The recommendation will be presented to the School Board as an information item on April 28 and is slated for a vote on May 12.

Proponents of later start times say it allows kids to sleep in, which improves their mental and physical health and attendance. Additionally, it would result in fewer days of walking to school in darkness, especially under permanent DST.

Arguments for earlier start times include more time for after-school activities and reduced childcare costs for parents. Later start times could also mean students have less time for homework while athletes have a harder time getting to games against other school divisions.

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Sunset over Ballston, as seen from The View of DC in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

All of a sudden there’s an hour of additional daylight in the evening.

Daylight saving time is back, and for many this is a welcome change that means more sunlight for exercise, outdoor dining, or other evening activities. For others, however, less sunlight in the morning could be detrimental to their AM exercise routines, commutes or overall feeling of wakefulness.

Amid the annual time change, there’s a nationwide push to end the springing forward and falling back, which leave many fatigued twice a year while they adjust.

A bipartisan roster of sponsors are backing a bill in Congress dubbed the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, which would make daylight saving time permanent.

Polls have suggested it would be a popular move, particularly with the rise of working from home making early wakeups less necessary. But some people and many sleep experts say that sticking with standard time is the better way to go from a health and wellness perspective.

What do you think about these potential changes?

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Traffic on I-395 looking south as the sun sets (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Get ready for it to get darker even earlier.

Daylight Saving Time ends early Sunday morning, and along with the clocks being turned back by an hour will come 5 p.m. sunsets and extra traffic enforcement in the D.C. area.

Authorities say November is a crucial time for safety on local roads, particularly due to less daylight during the morning and evening rush hours, and they’re stepping up enforcement to try to counter that.

“Area residents can expect increased enforcement of traffic safety laws that protect people walking and biking in the metropolitan Washington region,” said the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, in announcing its fall Street Smart campaign earlier this week. “Police departments across the region will be ticketing drivers who fail to obey the speed limit or don’t stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.”

Arlington County police said the added enforcement will run from today through the end of the month, with two “high-visibility” enforcement events in between, in Lyon Park and Ballston.

From an ACPD press release:

The arrival of fall brings cooler temperatures and less daylight during commuting hours. Everyone wants you to arrive at your destination safely, that’s why the Arlington County Police Department, and law enforcement agencies throughout the region, will participate in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s Fall Street Smart campaign from November 5 – November 30. The Street Smart campaign aims to identify and change unsafe behavior patterns amongst motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, with the goal of reducing the number of traffic related collisions and injuries on our roadways.

Street Smart Enforcement Activations

As part of the Street Smart campaign, officers will conduct high-visibility traffic enforcement at the following locations:

  • Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – 2500 block of Washington Boulevard
  • Wednesday, November 17, 2021 from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. – 4200 block of Fairfax Drive […]

Transportation Safety Tips

Whether you travel by foot, two wheels or four wheels, make our roadways safer by being a PAL – predictable, alert and lawful.

Drivers are reminded to:

  • Slow down and obey the posted speed limit.
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • Use caution when passing buses or stopped vehicles.
  • Yield to people walking or biking when turning.
  • Allow for at least 3 feet when passing bicyclists.
  • Avoid using your cell phone and never text while driving. Holding a hand-held communication device while driving is illegal in Virginia.

Pedestrians are reminded to:

  • Cross the street at the corner and use marked crosswalks when they are available.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street.
  • See and be seen! Wear light colored or reflective clothing after dark.
  • Watch for blind spots around trucks and buses.
  • Avoid using devices that distract you, such as cell phones, while you’re crossing the street.

Shared Mobility Device operators and bicyclists are reminded to:

  • Ride in the same direction as traffic, using bike lanes when possible.
  • Use hand signals to communicate your intentions with drivers.
  • Wear a helmet, which is required for all bicycle riders 14 years of age and younger and recommended for all other riders.
  • Keep your eyes on the road and avoid the use of devices that may distract you.
  • Stay visible after dark and in bad weather with light colored and reflective clothing. Use lights at night when visibility is poor.

The Street Smart campaign includes a public education component, featuring videos of crash survivors and the families of those killed on local roads. Among them is Arlington resident Helen Harris, who lost her leg after being struck by a dump truck in Rosslyn in December 2018.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Cold Weather Plan Now in Effect — “With temperatures continuing to drop as we head through the fall and into winter, Arlington County has activated its plan to keep people who are experiencing homelessness safe during extreme cold. The Cold Weather Plan will be in place from Nov. 1 through the winter months.” [Arlington County]

Reminder: Pumpkin Composting — “As for what to do with those leftover pumpkins? They can be dropped off for composting at Arlington’s Earth Products Yard in Shirlington (4300 29th Street S.) from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2.” [ARLnow]

Independent Candidates Struggle to Gain Traction — “Arron O’Dell’s campaign for the Arlington County Board hasn’t been going so well. His social media posts were getting few likes. Audiences at candidate forums didn’t appear to take him seriously… So he took to the sidewalks. ‘I am now officially the first politician in Virginia to use spray chalk to make a political campaign sign,’ he wrote on Instagram.” [Washington Post]

Looking Toward Next Year’s Election — “With the 2019 election almost in the rear-view mirror, the focus of local politics turns to what will transpire in 2020. On the ballot next November will be the County Board seat occupied by Libby Garvey and the School Board posts held by Nancy Van Doren and Tannia Talento.” [InsideNova]

Daylight Saving Time Ends This Weekend — “Area residents and drivers must be prepared for potential challenges the annual time change entails each fall, such as changes in sleep patterns that may increase chances of drowsy driving and shorter days, which means driving home in the dark and on caliginous roadways, warns AAA.” [Press Release]

Chamber Outlines 2020 Priorities — “The Chamber’s top priorities for Arlington and Virginia’s economic well-being include maintaining economic development programs as a chief policy priority, expanding resources for housing development, and funding necessary improvements for our transportation infrastructure.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

Crash Closes Part of Parkway — A serious crash has closed the northbound lanes of the GW Parkway between the Daingerfield Island marina and I-395. A crash investigation is underway. [Twitter]

False Report Prompts Big Police Response — “At approximately 2:30 p.m. on March 6, police were dispatched to the report of a man brandishing a firearm in the lobby of” the Days Inn hotel on Arlington Blvd. “The investigation determined that no disturbance had occurred and that the reporting party allegedly had an ongoing dispute with the hotel over a refund. A warrant for Filing a False Police Report was obtained for the suspect.” [Arlington County]

Garage Races Cancelled This Weekend — Updated at 9:35 a.m. — Crystal City’s Crosshairs Garage Races series will continue to bring fearless cyclists and spectators together for races through one of the neighborhood’s sprawling parking garages later this month. This year the series is being held on Saturdays in March, but this weekend’s scheduled races have been canceled due to a water main break. [Crystal City, Twitter]

Local Road Project ‘On the Bubble’ — “With tolls set to begin on Interstate 395 in October and already underway for more than a year on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission is set Thursday to consider the next steps of how to spend part of the money… Arlington County plans for a High Occupancy Vehicle and bus-only lane on Lee Highway in Rosslyn would be on the bubble.” [WTOP]

Remember to ‘Spring Forward’ This Weekend — “On Sunday, March 10, at 2 am, daylight saving time begins. We’ll set our clocks forward one hour, and the change will push sunsets later into the evening hours and sunrises later into the morning hours.” [Vox]

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AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning drivers to be extra mindful on Monday after Daylight Saving Time kicks in.

The annual scheduled clock hopping is happening on Sunday (March 11), “springing forward” an hour starting at 2 a.m.

Only 31.9 percent of Washingtonians get seven hours of sleep per night, according to AAA, and it can take two weeks for the body to adjust to the time turning.

Even losing one hour’s sleep can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm enough to cause damage. Health risks include strokes, heart attacks, obesity, diabetes, and workplace- or traffic-related accidents.

Drowsy driving in particular is a concern in AAA’s eyes citing the “major threat on area roadways Monday” morning and calling it “one of the most underreported traffic safety issues.”

The automotive organization’s warning points to its own drowsy driving research.

Remarkably, the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates indicate, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The difficulty in detecting drowsiness following a crash makes drowsy driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues. The new research provides an unprecedented analysis of in-vehicle dashcam video from more than 700 crashes, confirming that the danger of drowsy driving soars above official estimates. This weekend, millions of drivers will have difficulty springing forward. Come Monday, the prevalence of short sleep will loom large.

In the study, researchers examined video of drivers’ faces in the three minutes leading up to a crash.
Using a scientific measure linking the percentage of time a person’s eyes are closed to their level of drowsiness, the researchers determined that 9.5 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of crashes resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness. Federal estimates indicate drowsiness is a factor in only one to two percent of crashes.

Even so, 35 percent of drivers in the United States sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In a recent related AAA Foundation survey, nearly all drivers (96 percent) say they view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior. However, 29 percent admitted to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at some point in the past month.

Drowsy driving warning signs include struggling to keep your eyes open, lane drifting, and not remembering the last few miles driven.

To avoid drowsy driving, AAA recommends drivers travel when they normally would travel, avoid heavy foods and other sleep-inducing medications, and, for longer trips, schedule breaks every two hours for every 100 miles driven with an alert passenger who can take turns driving.

Photo via Flickr/David Giambarresi

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Morning Notes

Arlington Heights Gets New Stop Sign — “The Arlington Heights neighborhood became a safer place for students and other pedestrians on Oct. 30,” after the neighborhood got a new all-way stop sign at the intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Irving Street. Residents collected some 500 petition signatures in support of adding the stop sign. [InsideNova]

Reminder: Daylight Saving Time — Early Sunday morning is the time to “fall back” as Daylight Saving Time ends and clocks get set back an hour. [USA Today]

Clean Air in N. Va. — “This past summer’s air was among the healthiest in memory across the commonwealth. The summer months were the cleanest in terms of ground-level ozone in at least 20 years, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality reported on Oct. 31.” [InsideNova]

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HOV lanes of I-395 blocked near Pentagon during car fireClocks will “fall back” an hour early Sunday morning, as Daylight Saving Time ends.

The annual autumnal time change is associated primarily with earlier sunsets, but fatigue due to disrupted sleep patterns is another side effect.

Between darkness suddenly occurring during the duration of the evening rush hour, and bleary-eyed drivers, the time change can actually be a safety hazard on the roads.

AAA Mid-Atlantic this week issued a lengthy press release that included the following tips to stay safe over the next couple of days.

Time shift safety tips for pedestrians:

  • See and be seen – drivers need to see you to avoid you.
  • Make eye contact with drivers when crossing streets.
  • Wear bright colors or reflective clothing and/or accessories at night.
  • Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
  • Cross only at intersections or crosswalks. Look left, right and left again and only cross when it is clear.
  • Do not jaywalk or cross between parked cars.
  • Evaluate the distance and speed of oncoming traffic before you step out into the street.
  • Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks. If you have to walk on a road that does not have sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
  • Do not let umbrellas or jacket hoods block your view of approaching traffic.
  • While walking, pocket the cell phone and avoid listening to your music player at a volume that prohibits you from hearing approaching danger.

Time change tips for drivers:

  • Pay attention and eliminate all distractions including cell phones and car clocks that are off an hour!
  • Remember to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks. Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
  • Watch for children and families in neighborhoods and along school bus routes, at intersections, and when backing out of driveways.
  • Turn on your headlights. Make yourself more visible during early morning and evening hours.
  • Keep vehicle headlights and windows (inside and out) clean.
  • Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are around.
  • Teen drivers should exercise extra caution.
  • Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out ones. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
  • Slow down during rain and fog.

The rest of the press release, after the jump.

Read More

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I-395 is backed up from an accident near the 14th Street BridgePeople generally like Daylight Saving Time and its extra hour of daylight at night. Here’s one thing you may not like: extra drowsy drivers on the road.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says losing an hour of sleep Sunday morning could produce more drowsy driving all week.

The organization issued the following press release on Friday.

Wake up sleepyhead. Blame it on old Benjamin Franklin. The sleepiness begins again at 2 a.m. this coming Sunday. The time shift in the wee hours can break the sleep cycle and the “grogginess can persist all day” in a nation that already doesn’t get adequate sleep. Insomnia is deadly behind the wheel. Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (32 percent) confessed they were so tired they drove drowsy during the previous 30 days, according to the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The number of nodding drivers on the road might increase during next Monday’s commute times, the day after the biannual transition to and from Daylight Saving Time.

The “first six days of daylight saving time can prove dangerous for drivers and other highway users,” some research suggests. However, other researchers say their studies demonstrated “that transitions into and out of daylight saving time did not increase the number of traffic road accidents.”

“The shift in time can engender a shift in circadian rhythm. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk, and it can be just as dangerous, research shows. Too many people drive under the influence of sleep,” said Tom Calcagni, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Director of Public and Government Affairs.

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Morning Notes

"look from front yard visitor" (Flickr pool photo by wolfkann)

Historical Society Requests Heritage Center — The Arlington Historical Society formally requested including a heritage center in the the plan for redeveloping the Courthouse Square area. The organization said it could assist with developing such a facility, but could not foot the bill entirely on its own. [InsideNova]

Wizards’ Marcin Gortat Buys $1.6M Home in Arlington — Washington Wizards player Marcin Gortat has purchased one of the most expensive homes on the market in Arlington. He bought the 5-bedroom, 5.5-bathroom home for $1.6 million. The 4,008 square foot new house on N. Quebec Street should have plenty of room for the 6’11” Gortat. [Curbed DC]

County Responds to Streetcar Criticism — The county has made a website addressing a number of concerns raised about the streetcar project, particularly how to avoid problems being experienced by the D.C. streetcar on H Street. The website lists its plans to alleviate some of the problems, like keeping traffic moving, while calling this “an opportunity for us to learn best practices.” [Arlington County]

Free Halloween Taxi Rides from SoberRide — The Washington Regional Alcohol Program’s 2014 SoberRide service is available tonight. Anyone enjoying some adult beverages can get a free taxi, up to a $30 fare, instead of trying to drive home. SoberRide begins today at 10:00 p.m. and runs through 4:00 a.m. Saturday. Call 1-800-200-TAXI. [Washington Regional Alcohol Program]

Daylight Saving Time Ends — Remember to set your clocks back one hour this weekend. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday. It’s also a good time to test your smoke detector.

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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