Extra daylight saving – it’s only a matter of time!

The number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured rises when the clocks go back an hour in autumn. Picture: Alex Linch/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured rises when the clocks go back an hour in autumn. Picture: Alex Linch/Getty Images/iStockphoto

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An extra hour of daylight makes a big difference to our lives, health and wellbeing but safety charity Rospa wants to step up daylight saving to cut road deaths and injuries.

I feel the weight of winter has been lifted once the clocks go forward at the beginning of spring.

There’s something about leaving work late afternoon knowing, even at this time of year, you can do something constructive in the evening before the daylight disappears. It’s also the time of the year when the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) reiterates its campaign for lighter evenings all year round in a bid to save lives.

Instead of the clocks going back in October, the safety charity wants to trial Single/Double Summer Time (SDST) for two or three years. In autumn, instead of the clocks going back an hour to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) they would stay at British Summer Time – GMT+1. The following spring they would go forward another hour – GMT+2.

The charity says that, typically, in autumn when the clocks go back an hour, bringing darker evenings, the number of pedestrians killed and seriously injured rises, with the peaks between 3pm and 5pm. The effects are worse for the most vulnerable road users like children, the elderly, cyclists and motorcyclists.

It believes that, were the UK to have lighter evenings year-round, multiple lives could be saved.

Kevin Clinton, Rospa’s head of road safety, said: “We’re calling for a trial period of SDST, to demonstrate the benefits it would bring. When twilight and early-evening darkness occurs during the afternoon school run and rush hour, it creates dangerous conditions.

“Although it can be dark in the morning too, there are many factors that make the afternoon commute more dangerous – drivers, riders and pedestrians are all more tired after a full day, so attention and awareness may not be as high, and children tend to take longer on the walk home from school while they talk to friends, go to do different activities or take detours.”

Lighter evenings year-round have also been linked to business, health/wellbeing and environmental benefits, such as increased opening times for businesses and tourist destinations, extra light for activities after school and work, energy savings and reduced darkness for opportunist criminals.

In 2016, pedestrian deaths rose from 20 in September to 35 in October, 50 in November and 67 in December. The casualty rate for all road users increased from 546 per billion vehicle miles in October to 602 in November, before falling slightly to 571 in December.

An experiment between March 1968 and October 1971, when the clocks were left an hour ahead of GMT and dubbed British Standard Time, saved around 2,500 deaths and serious injuries each year of the trial but Rospa’s call takes this a stage further.

It makes sense to me. I hate the long, dark nights of winter and if there are other benefits too when it comes to road safety, health and business then why aren’t we at least trying it.

After all, it’s only a matter of time.

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