Join the battle against darkness

The intergalactic battle betwixt the forces of darkness and light is about to mobilise us Earthlings… again.

Though this tussle isn’t likely to involve Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker (he’s yet to respond to our letters), you can bet your bottom drachma that sabres will soon be swooshing/rattling in the labyrinthine corridors of the Death Star – I mean Parliament.

That’s because the plan to give us Brits lighter evenings all year round – by adopting Single/Double Summer Time (GMT+1 in winter and GMT+2 in summer) – is about to be debated by MPs… again.

You may recall that in December a Private Members’ Bill, put forward by Rebecca Harris MP, passed its second reading in the House of Commons with a huge majority.

Once we’d stopped jumping up and down and punching the air we realised there were still a few more mountains to climb. The next Everest will see the PMB go before a committee of all-party MPs. This stage is as crucial as it is imminent.

If Ms Harris’s Bill eventually conquers all, it will lead to the Government carrying out a cross-departmental analysis of the benefits of SDST – which in turn could trigger a three-year trial.

Why, you might wonder, are we getting so hot under the collar about fiddling with the clocks?

RoSPA has been at the forefront of the crusade to bring brighter nights to the UK for decades – citing research that shows they would save 80 lives and prevent more than 200 serious injuries on the roads each year.

A look in the rear-view mirror is quite disturbing. We estimate that about 5,000 deaths and 30,000 serious injuries have been caused needlessly in the UK since a similar, three-year experiment was concluded in 1971.

In addition to the avoidance of grief, suffering and hardship, another positive consequence of fewer road accidents would be considerable annual savings to taxpayers.

The Department for Transport estimated in 2009 that it would only cost £5 million to implement Single/Double Summer Time – but would save more than £138 million every year thereafter.

Some of the other benefits of SDST include a cut in annual CO2 emissions by nearly 500,000 tonnes, and a boost to the UK tourism industry of up to £3.5 billion per year – as well as more opportunities for people to play sport and to enjoy outdoor activities.

You can do your bit to convince the UK’s movers and shakers of this plan’s worthiness by clicking the big, red “Support Our Campaign” button on our campaign website.

Cliché alert: We need your force to be with us on this one!

Michael Corley, RoSPA’s campaigns manager

2 Comments to “Join the battle against darkness”

  1. Dear Sirs
    I have also noticed that some towns (well, certainly Swindon and I guess it can’t be the only one in the UK) are not lighting street lights in some areas.
    This is another great step forward – we live in a brightly lit area – a main road through a small market town in Wiltshire. Because it is brightly lit – virtually daylight 24/7 in fact – the speedsters amongst us roar through the town at 50 to 60 mph in a 30 limit – especially late at night. Just once in our time living here there was a complete power failure – it was amazing to see drivers reactions – with just their headlights, speed was reduced significantly.
    I suspect there is lots of data to prove that well-lit streets save lives but it might be worth a re-visit?
    Apart from anything else the environmental impact and unnecessary costs must be hugely reduced in so many ways!


    Martyn Kelham

    • Thanks for your thoughts and comments on the issue, Martyn. We are aware that some local authorities are now turning off some street lights at some times to save money and energy. Given the pressure that town halls are under to balance the books, it is difficult to be critical at this stage.

      Even so, we would urge councils to carry out a proper evaluation of such schemes. If the turning off of lights contributed to an increase in accidents, we would hope that the relevant local authority would be brave enough to perform a U-turn.


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