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Ending the clock change

Every autumn when the clocks go back and sunset suddenly occurs earlier in the day, there are a host of negative impacts on the way we live our lives.

The number of road casualties rises, with the effects being worse for the most vulnerable road users like children, older people, cyclists and motorcyclists.

In 2019, pedestrian deaths rose from 33 in September and 36 in October, to 54 in November and 57 in December. This is a trend we see every year.

Recent research by the RAC Foundation confirms that road traffic collisions increase by 19 per cent in the fortnight after putting the clocks back one hour from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and they reduce by 11 per cent when we put the clocks forward onto BST.

Our social activities are given a curfew, and this is particularly true for older generations. Although we have more light in the mornings, this occurs when many of us are either still in bed, or indoors getting ready for work or school. That means that we have less usable daylight in the evenings to do the things we enjoy in the outdoors or in social environments.

This has an impact on hospitality and leisure businesses such as pubs, museums, restaurants, and on the tourism industry more generally, which will be exacerbated given the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The darkness curfew also means that our health and wellbeing can be impacted significantly, leading to conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and people who are nervous about being out and about when it’s dark can become more socially isolated. As we are spending more of our evenings in the dark, our energy and fuel costs increase. In a Government consultation, evidence was given that demonstrates the risk of heart attack increases by 10 per cent when we have to put the clocks forward again in the spring.

Taken at 5pm before turning clocks back during the autumn clock change
Taken at 5pm after turning clocks back during the autumn clock change

Retaining year-round BST

RoSPA has campaigned against the unnecessary clock change for many years, and is calling on the Government to instead keep British Summer Time all year round.

This will mean that we avoid the sudden spike in pedestrian casualties, and that we will all be able to enjoy more usable, evening daylight for more of the year, spending time and money doing the things we love.

This is particularly important as the UK seeks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, to aid the economy and job market within sectors such as hospitality and leisure.

It would also help to tackle the loneliness and depression that many are feeling due to lockdown and other restrictions, as there will be more daylight during waking hours, thus helping us to socialise – in line with current coronavirus measures - more easily.

The public is in favour

More than half of people want to scrap the clock change and given the choice, 59 per cent of British people would prefer British Summer Time all year according to a YouGov survey in 2019.

The same survey also revealed that less than half of people want to keep the clock change, while two in five people actively want to see it scrapped.

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