Time for change on clocks going back, urges road safety charity, as research shows crashes rise

Road crashes rise significantly after the clocks go back.

Road crashes rise significantly after the clocks go back. - Credit: supplied

As the daylight savings system reaches 100 years old this year, family safety charity RoSPA, which also celebrates its centenary this year, is calling for a time-shift fit for the 21st century.

It comes as new research shows the clock going back significantly increases the risk of having crashes.

British Summer Time (BST) was introduced during the First World War in May 1916 in response to the German decision to take the same step to make the most of daylight hours. In the UK for the rest of the war, the clocks ran one hour ahead of GMT through the summer.

This same practice has been implemented by the government since then, other than a short period during the Second World War and an experiment between 1968 and 1971, during which year-round BST was trialled, saving around 2,500 deaths and serious injuries each year of the trial period.

But 100 years on from its introduction, RoSPA is renewing its call for a more significant change to the system which has now been made obsolete through changing technology, working practices, tourist habits and other factors.


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The current system is also dangerous for pedestrians. Every autumn when the clocks go back and the sunset occurs earlier in the day, road casualties rise, with the effects being worse for vulnerable road users like pedestrians, children, the elderly, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Last year, pedestrian deaths rose from 27 in September to 42 in October, 45 in November and 58 in December.

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RoSPA is calling for a change from the current regime of GMT in the winter and GMT+1 in the summer, to Single/Double Summer Time (SDST), which would move the clock forward to GMT+1 in the winter, and GMT+2 in the summer. This would increase evening sunlight year-round.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA's head of road safety, said: 'Child pedestrians are particularly vulnerable during the afternoon school run, when they digress on their way home and so are exposed to traffic risk for longer than their morning trip to school. During that period motorists are also tired after the day's work, concentration levels are low, and journey times are increased due to shopping and social trips.

'For these reasons, increased evening daylight would produce significant results in preventing accidents to children and other road users.'

RoSPA chief executive Tom Mullarkey said: 'Not only would we save a significant number of lives through a change to SDST, but we would also boost the tourism industry, increase recreational time for children through sports and other activity, allow older people to reduce the winter evening curfew, lower opportunistic crime, and decrease CO2 production and fuel costs, all in one fell swoop. It is the only way we can make so many material improvements to our country, at a stroke, at no cost.

'Unfortunately there are those who are determined to cling on to a practice which was innovative and forward-looking in 1916 but which has not been updated to its full potential a hundred years later. In these conditions of economic uncertainty and austerity, this simple measure would raise everyone's morale and set us up to deal with whatever troubles may lie ahead. We need our politicians to show the leadership and foresight of their wartime forbears, in our darkest hour.'

Drivers are 10% more likely to have a crash in the four weeks following the clocks changing at the end of October, new research has shown.

In figures compiled by Insure The Box, the UK's largest telematics insurance provider, it was revealed that the possibility of being involved in a collision is much higher in November when compared to October.

It follows a total of 11,700 accidents claims received between October and November in 2013 to 2015 being analysed.

For those drivers travelling between 5pm and 8pm the risk increases even more, rising to 40% when compared to the previous month.

These figures were revealed after analysis of three years of accident data from more than 300,000 different administered policies.

Charlotte Halkett, general manager communications for Insure The Box, said: 'There is no doubt accident risk increases as a direct result of the clocks going back one hour in autumn.

'For many young drivers, the evenings after the clock change will be their first experience of driving in the dark, coping with quite different conditions including reduced visibility. There are still far too many young men and women killed or seriously injured on our roads and stopping the annual autumn clock change could, from our analysis, save many young drivers from the risk of an accident.'

It is highlighting the increased risk to encourage young drivers to take a safe and sensible approach to driving as winter approaches.

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