Help us to champion the case for lighter evenings

Time is running out – it’s official. On Friday, January 20, MPs will vote in the House of Commons on whether to back the Daylight Saving Bill. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents believes that a “yes” vote could bring benefits to all. So what are we waiting for?

clock ticking down the minutes Daylight Saving Bill

The clock is ticking on the Daylight Saving Bill

A move to Single/Double Summer Time (GMT+1 in winter / GMT+2 in summer) would certainly be a good place to start in helping to make the UK’s road users significantly safer. Extra evening daylight protects vulnerable road users like children, the elderly, cyclists and motorcyclists, by making them more visible to motorists. And at the end of the working day, motorists’ concentration levels are often a lot lower, so a bit more afternoon/early evening light – especially in the winter – would help to lower the risk of an accident. It is therefore credible to suggest that any increase in casualties in the morning during the winter months would be outweighed by the reduction in casualties in the evenings – thanks to an hour of extra daylight.

Friday marks the third reading of the Bill, which passed its second reading in December 2010 with a huge majority. This feat means the push for lighter evenings is closer to succeeding now than at any time since 1970 – and our recent online opinion poll showed that 92 per cent of respondents supported the call for lighter evenings. The most recent research carried out by the Department for Transport showed that a move to SDST could reduce road deaths by around 80 per year and serious injuries by around 200 per year. There are also a host of other benefits to be had as a result of the proposed changes, with independent studies showing that a move to SDST would:

  • Cut CO2 emissions by 447,000 tonnes a year by reducing the need for electric lighting in the evenings
  • Provide a £3.5bn boost to British leisure and tourism, creating up to 80,000 new jobs in the sector
  • Reduce levels of obesity by allowing for more outdoor sport in the evenings
  • Relieve the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder and similar conditions
  • Reduce crime and the fear of crime (especially among the elderly).

    Sunset over House of Commons Daylight Saving Bill

    The all important vote will take place in the House of Commons on January 20, 2012.

This whole debate begs the question: What would you do with an extra hour of evening daylight? You could kick-start that exercise regime, go cycling, open up your business for longer, enjoy a family moment, mow the grass – and that’s just for starters. It is also worth mentioning, that at this stage, RoSPA is calling for more evidence for giving the UK its extra hour of evening daylight. The world has changed a great deal since the last experiment, which ran from 1968-71, when British Standard Time (GMT + 1) was employed all year round. Now it’s time to gain a fresh perspective for the 21st century. Tourism chiefs in the Lake District are the latest to champion the Bill which they say will boost business, allowing attractions to stay open for longer and providing an opportunity to extend the tourism season. It’s a win-win!

So, over to you MPs – the ball is in your court. The nation is talking (and debating) on this matter. Is it not time to take a leap into the light? Whatever your view may be, here are a few thoughts and feelings from staff and students at the University of Birmingham to get you thinking:

 

To find out more and register support for RoSPA’s campaign, visit www.rospa.com/lighterevenings/

Charlotte Hester, RoSPA’s press officer/web editor

3 Comments to “Help us to champion the case for lighter evenings”

  1. why do we change the time when no one in Europe doe’s. maybe there will be an EU directive telling us to stop!! we seem to get EU directives for everything else. it does make it a pain for HGV /PCV drivers with there tacho’s on different times!!!

  2. I remember the fuss in the 1970’s it was a disaster.. I had to leave home and WALK to school in the dark as it wont get light until 9am… the news papers gave out light reflecting arm bands to children as some had been run over areas in the country where children walk along lanes to school or the school bus were very vulnerable. In Scotland it didnt get light until 10.00.
    Children leave school before its dark now.. if you change the times it will only stay light until 5pm… not the light evenings you keep saying it will be… Our local Zoo will be closed because light or not it will be COLD in winter so the idea that tourist places will gain is again a myth.
    Just look back at the papers in the 1970s and the problems it caused last time…. NO DARK MORNINGS more cars are on the road at 8am than at 5pm just remember that.

    • Thank you for your comments, Jacqueline.
      As you say, many newspaper reports from the 1968-71 trial period were negative. But how do the claims in those reports compare to the evidence?
      The government’s own 1970 review into the British Standard Time trial (GMT+1 all year round) concluded that about 2,700 deaths and injuries were prevented on the road for each year that the experiment ran.
      Although it found there was a small increase in the number of casualties in the morning, this was more than offset by a significant decrease in the number of casualties at twilight.
      All of the evidence shows that road users are more vulnerable in the late afternoon / early evening because they are more tired and more likely to take longer and more digressive journeys.
      Of course, the world has changed a lot since the early 70s, which is why we’re calling for a fresh review of the evidence. If that review proves positive, then why not have a trial?
      Apart from safer roads, an extra hour of evening daylight would also bring more jobs, lower energy bills, more opportunities to exercise, and less pollution.

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