As we approach the changing of the clocks, once again the debate over the benefits (or otherwise) of the daylight savings system is raging.
This time around, a proposal by the European Commission to scrap daylight savings time is taking centre stage. This evening, the House of Lords will debate the issue, with the chairman of the Lords’ internal market sub-committee saying the proposals are not in keeping with “the principle of subsidiarity”.
Unsurprisingly we are already seeing some sections of the press latching on to this and proclaiming it “European meddling”, presenting it as an us-versus-them issue. A Scottish Daily Mail article has stated “time must be safe from their clutches”.
Despite this inevitable and divisive discourse, we must not let politics get in the way of what is a life-or-death issue.
We know that the clock change kills people. In 2017, pedestrian deaths rose from 37 in September to 46 in October, 63 in November, and 50 in December. The casualty rate for all road users increased from 520 per billion vehicle miles in October to 580 per billion vehicle miles in November.
RoSPA has previously called for Single/Double Summer Time, which would see the clock change retained, but move the country an hour ahead year-round. However, it’s estimated that even retaining British Summer Time (BST) all year would save at least 30 lives and prevent many more serious and minor injuries, each and every year.
This is because drivers will have the benefit of extra daylight during the evening commute through the winter, protecting vulnerable road users, particularly pedestrians and cyclists.
In its article, the Scottish Daily Mail unhelpfully misrepresents RoSPA’s campaign, calling it “counterintuitive” and claiming that it discounts children who walk to school in the dark.
The author has not done his research – we even address this on our webpage https://www.rospa.com/campaigns-fundraising/current/lighter-evenings/.
Yes, there might be a slight increase in the number of accidents happening in the morning, but the main peak for accidents involving vulnerable road users is the afternoon/evening commute – the expected decrease in the number of incidents during these hours will be far greater than any morning increase, giving a significant net increase in terms of lives saved and injuries prevented.
And there’s another dimension. Maintaining BST through the darker winter months would improve general wellbeing by avoiding the curfew effect of the autumn clock change and give us an extra hour of evening daylight when most of us are out and about, travelling, shopping, taking part in sports or visiting friends and family.
So, while there will always be those willing to turn the issue into a political football, we must not forget wellbeing and the lives that are at stake.
Posted: 10/26/2018 10:50:20 AM