My Happy Hour challenge – living one hour ahead of the rest of the UK

RoSPA fundraiser Peter Lowe has been raising awareness of our Lighter Evenings campaign by living an hour ahead of the country since the clocks went back in October. Here’s his story:

Peter 1So I have come to the official end of the Happy Hour challenge, but I intend to continue as much as possible throughout the winter. The challenge has been interesting, informative and I seem to have overcome most obstacles. I have pretty much done what I set out to do in terms of getting up earlier going/leaving work an hour earlier. I have tried to work around social events rather than pull out. From a PR point of view I’m in the wrong part of the country in London, but I think it’s important someone makes a stand. I would add however that with average commute times of 79 mins compared to 59 nationally for a round trip, arguably this puts us more on a par with other regions for usable winter daylight during weekdays.

I have certainly found that I can get more done during daylight at weekends, but even during the week with work finishing shortly after dusk, if found it physiologically beneficial with daylight for most of the day. I have also found that having my time pieces on GMT+1 is psychologically better for making events happen earlier as opposed to just getting up earlier – this also reduced the temptation to fall back an hour in the evening, as of course all the TV schedules are effectively later than usual.

My work colleagues have been either supportive of my experiment or have not expressed any opinion, but I have not received any negative comments. This is similar to members of my family, some of which have been very supportive. Some have also stated that they can get more done in the day. Some colleagues have expressed their dislike for the current time system. I may have persuaded a few people that the system needs to be changed, but going by Facebook comments, my blogs have also helped to inform many others who liked lighter evenings, that this policy is in fact serious and makes sense for safety, business, tourism, health, sport, energy and other sectors of society.

PEter 4In terms of a desire to change, some people preferred to stay on BST all year, to conserve daylight in winter and to end the inconvenience of changing clocks – (going by the latest e-petitions, year round BST is by far the most popular time system to change to). While BST all year would be a step forward, SDST would produce the best results for road safety as well as many of the above sectors. The benefits would far outweigh the inconvenience of retaining the twice yearly clock change. I was also surprised at how many people were unaware of the time system on the continent and that SDST would put us on the same time zone. If this was more widely known the e-petition results might be different.

In my blogs I have tried to lighten some of subject matter with catchphrases and photos to illustrate my points. I launched by talking about the history of timekeeping and photos from the Willett Memorial Sundial. As well as the advantages of SDST, I have also talked about objections regarding milk and postal deliveries and farming being less relevant, explained why just getting up earlier would not be very viable and mentioned some of RoSPA’s other work. I’ve taken photos of my watch against other clocks to try and prove the challenge is real and also of local road junctions at different times of day to illustrate traffic levels. Crucially I have also mentioned recent interest from the Republic of Ireland in lighter evenings. If Ireland were to participate in the trial period, this would further boost the case for safety and business and do away with any concerns regarding the land boundary with Northern Ireland.

PEter 3We may not be able to win the aesthetic arguments for this policy, but then again RoSPA campaigns for what will make us and our families safer, not what looks good – in the same manner seatbelts are hardly fashion accessories and may be a nuisance, but they have saved countless lives and injuries! It is concerning that in recent years attempts to introduce lighter evenings have been allowed to be derailed by relatively few aesthetic objectors and entrenched opponents who still claim lighter evenings will be more dangerous. They should look at the RoSPA website – the evidence in favour is all there! Yes casualties will rise in the morning, but this will be surpassed by the fall in evening casualties.

I have also learnt that motor insurance premiums would fall after a few years of lighter evenings – safety that saves you money – it’s not often you get that! Then there all the other countless benefits including business hours, tourism, energy saving, health and sport all for around £5m for advertising. Even this would quickly be re-cooped by the treasury. Therefore I would urge the government to stand up for safety with RoSPA on this issue!

You can still sponsor Peter at http://www.justgiving.com/P-LOWE1, and you can find out more about the RoSPA Lighter Evenings campaign at http://www.rospa.com/campaigns-fundraising/current/lighter-evenings/

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