Time To Stop Putting The Clocks Back

National road safety charity Brake is calling on drivers to slow down and look out for people on foot and bicycle as the clocks go back making evenings darker and more trecherous on our roads. Brake is also urging the Government to abolish the UK’s archaic time zone system and adopt Central European Time to save lives on roads.

By switching to Central European Time, we would experience longer hours of daylight in the evening. Although early mornings would be darker, the switch would mean increased visibility at crucial times of day, resulting in fewer crashes. Research suggests that 450 deaths and serious injuries each year could be prevented if we switched to a different time zone. [1]

Late autumn and winter is a particularly treacherous time for vulnerable road users, with deaths and serious injuries of pedestrians and cyclists rising as we move into November. In November 2006, 897 pedestrians and cyclists were killed or seriously injured on British roads (compared to 853 in October and 796 in September). [2]

During the week crashes peak between 8am and 9am, and between 3pm and 6pm. [3] The busy early evening period is made even more dangerous by the clocks going back.

Central European Time would mean that rather than reverting to Greenwich Mean Time in October (and putting the clocks back one hour), the clocks would stay one hour ahead until Spring, when they would then be put forward another hour in March. From then on they would be put backward and forward an hour each year as with the current system. This would not reduce the number of daylight hours, but would mean more light in the evenings.

Brake is also urging pedestrians and cyclists to ensure they can be seen by drivers by wearing bright and reflective clothing and taking particular care when crossing. Cyclists should also make sure they have fully functioning lights.

Jools Townsend, Head of Education at Brake, says: “The practice of using Greenwich Mean Time is rooted in tradition, rather than common sense. Research shows that switching to Central European Time could save more than 100 lives each year. [4] It is unacceptable that so many families are torn apart by sudden, violent deaths and injuries on our roads and the Government must take bold steps to stop these preventable casualties. We’re also appealing to drivers to slow down - to 20mph or below around homes and schools - and stay alert for people on foot and bicycle who are so vulnerable at this time of year.”

Road Safety Week, co-ordinated by Brake, takes place 5-11 November, focusing on the theme of child pedestrian and cyclist safety. For information, go to www.roadsafetyweek.org.

[1] Transport Research Laboratory, 1998
[2] Road Casualties Great Britain 2006 (Department of Transport 2007)
[3] Road Casualties Great Britain 2006 (Department of Transport, 2007)
[4] Transport Research Laboratory, 1998

27 October 2007 Staff

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