How changing the way we set our clocks could save lives
Brake, the UK road safety charity, are calling for a change in the way the UK sets its clocks. The proposed move could prevent hundreds of fatalities and injuries every year.
The UK adopts Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in the winter and British Summer Time (BST) in the summer. This means that the UK moves the clocks forward by 1 hour between March and October.
Moving the clocks back in October feels like a pronounced event. The shorter days of winter are trimmed by a further hour as the clocks are reset to GMT. In some parts of the UK this can mean darkness falls by 3.30pm.
Brake are proposing a move to Single/Double British Summertime (SDST) which means GMT plus 1 hour in the winter and GMT plus 2 hours in the summer. The move would mean darker mornings but extra daylight in the evenings.
What difference would moving to SDST make?
Statistics show a direct correlation between road casualty rates and darker evenings. In 2013 the number of pedestrian fatalities in December was double the number of June. Casualties are at their highest in the first hour after sunset. This means that moving the clocks back in October effectively moves nightfall into the into the time frame when children typically walk home or are being collected.
Adopting SDST could save prevent accidents that occur during the peak in travel in the evenings.
What's preventing a move to SDST?
The argument for adopting SDST has been around for decades.
In the late sixties a 3 year trial that saw the adoption of GMT plus 1 hour was carried out. In the same period casualties reduced by 11% in England and 17% in Scotland, albeit with a smaller increase in casualties in the resulting darker mornings.
During the first two trial there were round 2,500 fewer accidents and deaths, although other road safety measure were introduced in parallel and may have contributed to this.
Despite the conclusion of the trial, a move to year round BST was vetoed by the House of Commons.
Other arguments against the move have come from Industry - although the cost of administering the change is reckoned to be relatively minimal.
It has also been suggested that milk deliveries (remember those) would be inconvenienced. Farmers were also initially opposed to the move but are now neutral/positive about the initiative.
It would see that resistance to change itself is the main hurdle. Given that the benefits would be saving lives it would be sensible to revisit the argument afresh.
Do personal injury solicitors see an upturn in Road Traffic Accident Claims in winter months?
Although these figures have not been centrally compiled, when polled Quittance's network or personal injury solicitors have reported an increase in claims during winter months.
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