Make Roads Safer via Permanent British Summer Time, Says RoSPA

Switch to permanent British Summer Time to make the roads safer, says Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Deaths increase as clocks go back

British Summer Time must be permanently adopted as winding the clocks back in winter makes the roads more dangerous and ‘kills people’, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents claims. The safety charity therefore supports the European Commission’s proposal to stop the mandatory 1 hour, twice yearly, change that extends usable daylight hours in summer but reduces them in winter.

As justification, the safety charity claims there is a ‘marked spike’ in the number of vulnerable road users killed and seriously hurt when the clocks go back. Consider 2017, for instance. In September – before the clocks went back – 37 pedestrians were killed. The figure then rose after the October change. For example:

  • November 2017: 63 pedestrian deaths
  • December 2017: 50 pedestrian deaths

Chief Executive, Errol Taylor, explains: “Clock changes were first introduced in 1916 to reflect the needs of a nation at war. However, our priority now should be the prevention of road accidents that cause injury and death. We know the clock change kills people. Road casualty rates increase with the arrival of darker evenings and worsening weather conditions’, Mr Taylor adds.

Make Roads Safer via Permanent British Summer Time, Says RoSPA Image 1

Protect vulnerable road users

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents makes further statements to support its case and add context. For example, permanent British Summer Time would ‘most benefit’ vulnerable road users such as ‘children on the way home from school’. 3pm is a peak time for accidents during the working week, after all. Furthermore:

  • Following the European Commission’s proposal to end the legally required, twice annual, clock change the Members of the European Parliament voted 410 (in favour) to 192 (against)
  • If the proposal becomes law, it is likely to be implemented from 2021
  • The United Kingdom is currently required to swap from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean on the last Sunday of October

Further benefits

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Permanent British Summer Time might do more than improve road safety, the charity suggests. People might be inclined to travel more, for example. This might make them more likely to spend time in leisure outlets, shops, and other establishments. This, in turn, might make the businesses more profitable and increase the nation’s tax yield.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents also suggests many older people feel ‘curfewed by the darkness’ and trapped indoors. Longer, lighter, evenings might therefore improve their quality of life. Furthermore, the extra light might reduce energy bills as people become less reliant on the artificial alternatives.

Personally as an aged person, retaining the summer time clock time through winter would suit me just fine, I now get up later and go to bed later (and that is my choice), so I get less daylight hours in winter. But that really is down to what comes naturally, daylight hours are less due to the position of the sun, not the fingers of the clock. So are we saying that the position of the clock fingers relative to the position of the sun is a direct contribution to accidents and not the reduced amount of daytime light strength and the length of daylight each day? Are we saying that the position of the clock fingers are the contributory cause to increased accidents and not the adverse weather that sets in beginning October along with the reduced availability of the weakened sun? So what is being said is that the minute the clocks go back to GMT in October, the highways accident rate suddenly shoots up and once we set the clocks forward, accidents stop happening, all because we moved the fingers on a clock? In my lifetime, there have been two serious government debates about stopping the use of British Summer Time as it was then known, now Daylight Saving Time. The first time way back circa 50s, the farmers protested that they needed BST to help with the long days of harvesting and the debate was closed in favour of the farmers. In the next debate, circa 90s as I remember it, the same debate took place, farmers accepted they could adjust their working hours to suit the sun, so were happy to adapt to a change, but then the education authorities and schools themselves claimed that changing BST to GMT would adversely affect children 's safe travel to school and the debate closed. If the time set by GMT does indeed create more accidents than if we let BST (DST) run on, will save lives, then I see only good to the changes to the times. But where is the hard evidence? Where are the facts to substantiate this. All I see is guesstimation, perhaps, maybe, possibly. Do the schools and farmers agree? Or is this a commercial gimmick?

As someone who cycles to work, I cannot disagree with this suggestion more. If we were on BST all year, it would be dark or nearly dark for all of those of us who cycle to work or school for at least two months of the year. Currently in December, sunrise is close to 8am; consider it if sunrise was 9am, or even later north. I'm from the south of the country. As a regular commuter I find the roads far more hostile in the morning as everyone is out and rushing at the same time, whereas the evening commute feels much calmer as the schools kick out a couple of hours before most people leave work. As a person who works full-time, it would still be dark when I get out of work as a 4pm sunset becomes a 5pm sunset, or about the time most people stop work, but I'd not have had the benefit of going to work in daylight, thus I'd get no daylight whatsoever all week. I wonder what effect this possible idiotic EU imposition would have on the health service in GP visits for depression and prescriptions for mental ill-health, or worse.

April Fool . . .

Bad move. In the winter having lighter mornings is more helpful as I would leave work in the dark regardless. Also for those in the far north using BST in winter wouldn't help. A further reason is GMT is a standard, that runs in line with UTC, making time calculations much easier.

Yes, Yes, Yes !

As a computer programmer.... PLEASE don't mess with Time Zones... these things are impossible enough as it is!

The twice a year hour change was introduced more than a century ago to save electricity since the low electricity consumption LED light had not then been invented. Tungsten filament lamps, paraffin lamps and candles were the only form of lighting available. Now that very efficient LED lighting is quite normal, there is no need to change the hour. British Summer Time in perpetuity would be a high time, long delayed restoration to common sense, not to mention the adverse health effects of the hour change.

Is it really that changing the clocks *causes* deaths? Or is it rather that Man is lazy ... and doesn't take as much care as is necessary in darker hours? And as a result he is looking for an excuse for his slapdash, haphazard way of living? How can RoSPA trot out the nonsense that " ... winding the clocks back in winter makes the roads more dangerous and ‘kills people..."? Roads are not of themselves dangerous ... leave them alone, keep off them and they kill nobody.

I am in full agreement as long as it is BST and not GMT. I need the extra hour in summertime to conduct my outdoor target shooting and the extra hour is essential to do this.

I do hope you're right, David Hipson. Unfortunately it is the sort of crazy thing they'd do, so I fear not.

The justification by the spike in road deaths in November (after the clocks are put RIGHT) seems circumstantial. Has RoSPA not considered the fact that it's also winter, is naturally darker anyway, and that the weather starts to deteriorate, often becoming foggy, wetter, and frosty or icy in the mornings?

As an aged person, by which you presumably mean retired, are you not free to get up and go to bed at whatever time you choose?

Being aged does not imply one iota that I am retired, it means comparatively I am old. But I remain active, however, I have changed my habits by natural selection, I choose tbget up later, as I said, my choice, I prefer to get up once the day has warmed up a little, done my time getting up at 5 or 6am in the cold frosty mornings. But just to reiterate, that's my choice, I don't expect the world to emphasise with me not do I care, at 80 odd, I'm footloose and happy, BUT I would love the time changed so the world can get into step with me.

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