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March 14, 2013

PUBLIC FORUM: Eastern time defies common sense

Nobody complains more than Hoosiers about changing their clocks. And there’s a valid reason – DST in Indiana’s Eastern Time Zone is painful! Just as we are beginning to be cheered by morning sunshine after coming out of a long, dark winter, Hoosiers in Indiana’s Eastern Time counties were plunged back into dark mornings on Sunday, March 10. It’s depressing! In contrast, Hoosiers in Indiana’s Central Time counties barely noticed the switch to DST because it will be daylight when most of them got out of bed this Sunday.

It wasn’t always this way. When time zones were established, Indiana was a Central Time state. Portions of Indiana were switched to the Eastern Time Zone in the 1960s to facilitate communications with financial centers and network television in New York. Today’s instantaneous information transfer through e-technology has negated “perceived” advantages of Eastern Time in Indiana. In the meantime, Eastern Time is causing many “inconveniences to commerce.” The demand for nationwide same-day delivery of specialized products and parts is forcing Indiana manufacturers to relocate to logistics hubs in the Central Time Zone. Eastern Time hubs can’t meet that demand. The 3-hour time difference with the West Coast is now a year-round inconvenience for direct communications and a deterrent to business interaction with Indiana. Late broadcast of nationally televised sports and cultural events is inconvenient for Hoosier audiences and reduces the viewership. Indiana is not taking advantage of its natural Central Time location.

At the same time, when it doesn’t get dark until around 10 p.m., Eastern Time has stolen the darkness from summer evenings. Darkness brings the magic to campfires, allows stars to be visible, brings focus to the music at summer concerts, and provides intimacy for evening chats. The late sunlight of Eastern Time is family-unfriendly when it comes to bedtime and July Fourth fireworks.

20,000 Hoosiers and 42 school districts have signed petitions and resolutions in support of restoring Indiana to its original, geographically correct Central Time Zone. The General Assembly is being asked to appoint a study committee to examine the consequences of Indiana’s split time zone designations and to evaluate their effects on Hoosiers. Time zone issues have never been vetted by our legislators. Hoosiers are saying that this discussion is overdue.

Susannah H. Dillon

Central Time Coalition president

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