Daylight Saving

The end of British Summer Time on 30 October heralds the beginning of the most dangerous time of year on UK roads. Last November was among the worst months in 2004 for road accidents involving 3,320 pedestrians of whom 1,137 were children.

Generally, the most dangerous time is between 3pm and 6pm. This is when drivers are going home after a busy day at work and children are making their way home from school. During the summer up to a quarter of all accidents happen during these hours, but when the clocks go back, heavy traffic and rapidly deteriorating light increases this statistic to a third.

In the UK, clocks follow Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) from October to March and British Summer Time (BST) from March to October. There have been a number of attempts at introducing legislation to change UK time to create lighter evenings all year round aimed at reducing the numbers killed and injured in road accidents. Most European countries follow Central European Time, which is always one hour ahead of the UK.

The effects of clocks going back are greatest for the most vulnerable road users. In 2004, pedestrian deaths and serious injuries rose from 596 in September to 681 in November and 696 in December.

The most recent research estimates that adopting Single/Double Summer Time (SDST) in the UK would result in around 450 fewer road deaths and serious injuries, including between 104 and 138 fewer deaths.

This confirms earlier research which showed that the 1968/71 experiment, when British Standard Time (GMT + 1) was employed all year round (the clocks were advanced in March 1968 and not put back until October 1971) saved around 2,500 deaths and serious injuries each year of the trial period.

Extra evening daylight protects vulnerable road users especially children, pedestrians, the elderly, cyclists and motorcyclists, making them more visible to motorists. There are more accidents in the afternoon rush hour than in the morning. Motorists are more tired after a day’s work and concentration levels are lower. Children tend to go straight to school in the morning but often digress on their way home and so increasing their exposure to the road environment. Social trips are generally made in the afternoon and evening.

Tourism, leisure and sporting organisations generally support a move to SDST, welcoming the increased opportunities for activity presented by more daylight on weekday evenings - an increasingly important point.

25 October 2005 Staff

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