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Indiana Time

Debate 1:
Daylight Saving

Debate 2:
Eastern vs Central 
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Non-Commerce Reasoning
Proponents of Central Time often raise non-commerce related issues when pushing for a change to Central Time. Here is the USDOT's response from the 2006 ruling:

         "Natural Time Zone" or "Simple Geography"
Commenters noted that time zones are established geographically by the earth's 24 hour rotation and the 360 degrees of the earth's circumference. Based on geography, they explained that the geographic boundary between the Eastern and Central Time Zones is at the 82.5 degree line of longitude which is in Ohio, not Indiana. They also noted that the geographic center of the Central Time Zone is located in Illinois and, therefore, "the entire state of Indiana is well within the natural boundaries of the central time zone." From an astronomical perspective, commenters stated that the sun should be overhead at noon and that, under Eastern Daylight Time, the sun would not reach its highest point until 2 p.m. and set at 9:15 p.m. in the summer in some parts of Indiana. They complained of being "out of sync" with the sun. They argued, therefore, that all of Indiana should be moved to the Central Time Zone, as it was from 1918 to 1961.

The Department is mindful of the value and ease of setting time zones based on simple geography. Congress has recognized, however, that natural time and simple geography do not address the complexity of modern life. Accordingly, in addition to establishing time zones based simply on longitudinal lines, Congress adopted a standard for time zone decisions: "Regard for the convenience of commerce and the existing junction points and division points of common carriers engaged in interstate or foreign commerce." It is DOT's responsibility to consider requests for changes in time zone boundaries in light of the statutory standard, bearing in mind the need to address the effect on economic, cultural, social, and civic activities between neighboring counties in making decisions.

Safety of the Children
Many commenters expressed concern about the impact of the time zone boundaries on children. Some concerned parents commented that, for safety reasons, their children should not have to be standing at the bus stop on rural roads when it is still dark outside and, therefore, urged a move to the Central Time Zone. Other concerned parents stated that there was no statistical data concerning early morning incidents involving children waiting for buses and said that they preferred that their children have an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day to allow them to spend more time outdoors to get exercise. A few commenters talked about an obesity problem in children who did not exercise and suggested it was better to have more daylight in the afternoon so that children could play sports or otherwise be active outdoors. They favored, therefore, keeping counties in the Eastern Time Zone. A few other commenters mentioned student drivers. They noted that student drivers "have very limited driving skills" and would "drive to school in the dark and often times in hazardous road conditions."

Other commenters said that the argument about school children waiting in the dark should not be used to support a move to the Central Time Zone. For example, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce provided information on the safety case. The Chamber noted "[d]arkness in the morning at bus stops has not proven to be a safety hazard." In support of its position, the Chamber stated that a "32-year National Study of School Bus Safety done by the Kansas State DOE in 2003 shows that 90% of school bus-stop accidents occur in daylight." In responding to the Chamber's position, Thomas Heller wrote that the study only addressed loading and unloading accidents and that there were no studies presented on moving school bus accidents or the performance of schoolchildren and academic achievement based on "unnaturally early school hours." Although expressing concern about dark mornings, Patty Ann Wright, a school bus driver for 23 years from Sullivan County, stated that school bus drivers attend annual safety meetings and that buses are inspected at least twice a year. She noted that "[b]ecause of this emphasis on safety, there are very few injuries to Indiana schoolchildren while traveling on school buses." On the other hand, another commenter, Gary King, asserted that "it would be better if the schools would change to later starting times. Educational research supports that."

The Department received no research or studies supporting this assertion. Later starting times for schools is a local issue beyond the scope of this proceeding.

These non-commerce reasons continue to be raised - as emotional arguments - in support of Central Time. Until Central Time proponents present new information and a consensus for change the status quo should be followed. Eastern Time for Indiana.

Please see the Solar Time and Natural Time pages on this website for more information on the "natural time" argument.

The 2014 report "School Start Times for Adolescents" referenced by Central Time advocates suggests a school start time no earlier than 8:30am but DOES NOT change that recommendation to 9:30am for Eastern Time zone students. The study does not change their recommendation based on location or time zone. While later start times (such as the 8:30am start time recommended by the report) may be helpful to children following that recommendation does not require changing the time zone of the State of Indiana.