Sunday (March 31) marks the beginning of British Summer Time (BST). This is the time of year when the clocks go forward, we all lose an hour in bed and the evenings get lighter. In turn, the clocks go back an hour on the last Sunday in October. However, following recent developments in Brussels, the UK’s bi-annual tradition of changing the clocks could soon be about to end.
We’re calling for an end to the Daylight Savings Time clock changes in order to prevent serious injury and death on the road. RoSPA supports the European Parliament proposal to stop the obligatory one-hour, twice-yearly clock change which extends daylight hours in the summer, but reduces usable daylight hours in winter evenings.
Each year, when the clocks go back in the autumn, there is a marked spike in the number of vulnerable road users killed and seriously injured. According to the Department of Transport, in 2017 pedestrian deaths rose from 37 in September to 46 in October, 63 in November, and 50 in December.
Clock changes were first introduced in 1916 to reflect the needs of a nation at war. However, our priority now should be the prevention road accidents that cause serious injury and death.
We know that the clock change kills people. During the working week, casualty rates peak at 8am and 10am and 3pm and 7pm, with the afternoon peak being higher. Road casualty rates increase with the arrival of darker evenings and worsening weather conditions.
And it is vulnerable road users – such as children on their way home from school and cyclists – who would experience the most benefit. Currently, vulnerable road users have far higher fatality rates per billion passenger miles, and these rates increased for both pedestrians and motorcyclists in 2017. Anything we can do to bring these rates down has to be worth it.
The benefits of a change to the current system also stretch far beyond road safety. The increased amount of daylight during waking hours means active travel will be encouraged, electricity bills will go down, tourist and leisure facilities will be accessible for longer, and older people who feel “curfewed” by darkness will be enabled to be outdoors for later.
For decades, RoSPA has been at the forefront of the campaign to give the UK an extra hour of evening daylight all year round.
In 2012, backbench MP Rebecca Harris brought forward Private Members legislation entitled the ‘Daylight Saving Bill’ which called for a review of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year. Despite enjoying considerable cross-party support, the passage of the Bill was blocked by a small number of MPs.
The recent vote in the European Parliament to end clock changes provides an opportunity to go much further than the proposals set out in the Daylight Savings Bill. By taking swift action we can prevent life-changing accidents and death on the UK’s roads.
Errol Taylor, chief executive
Posted: 3/27/2019 11:08:49 AM