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RoSPA calls for permanent British Summer Time in wake of European Parliament vote

April 2019
Sheila Pantry OBE

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is calling for an end to Daylight Savings Time clock changes in order to prevent serious injury and death on the road.

The family safety charity supports the European Parliament proposal to stop the obligatory one-hour, twice-yearly clock change which extends daylight hours in the summer, but reduces usable daylight hours in winter evenings.

Each year, when the clocks go back in the autumn, there is a marked spike in the number of vulnerable road users killed and seriously injured. According to the UK Department of Transport, in 2017, pedestrian deaths rose from 37 in September to 46 in October, 63 in November, and 50 in December.

RoSPA chief executive Errol Taylor said: “Clock changes were first introduced in 1916 to reflect the needs of a nation at war. However, our priority now should be the prevention road accidents that cause serious injury and death.

“We know that the clock change kills people. During the working week, casualty rates peak at 8 am and 10 am and 3 pm and 7 pm, with the afternoon peak being higher. Road casualty rates increase with the arrival of darker evenings and worsening weather conditions.

“And it is vulnerable road users – such as children on their way home from school and cyclists – who would experience the most benefit. Currently, vulnerable road users have far higher fatality rates per billion passenger miles, and these rates increased for both pedestrians and motorcyclists in 2017. Anything we can do to bring these rates down has to be worth it.

“While we respect the views of those that want to keep the current system, we must not lose sight of the fact that lives are at stake.”

The benefits of a change to the current system also stretch far beyond road safety. The increased amount of daylight during waking hours means active travel will be encouraged, electricity bills will go down, tourist and leisure facilities will be accessible for longer, and older people who feel “curfewed” by darkness will be enabled to be outdoors for later.

For decades, RoSPA has been at the forefront of the campaign to give the UK an extra hour of evening daylight all year round.

In 2012, UK Conservative MP Rebecca Harris brought forward Private Members legislation entitled the ‘Daylight Saving Bill’ which called for a review of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year. Despite enjoying considerable cross-party support, the passage of the Bill was blocked by a small number of MPs.