As clocks go back the double summer time debate hots up

BRAKE launches Lighter Later campaign as Govt position softens on an extra hour of evening light

by Tony Farrelly   October 29, 2011  

moon

As the clocks go back again the issue of whether they should or not has again climbed the political agenda with a private members bill currently going through the House of Commons proposing a trial move to so-called 'double summer time.' The suggestion is for a full independent review of such a move and now the Government itself is contemplating a three year trial if the Welsh and Scottish Governments agree.

The road safety charity BRAKE has also launched the Lighter Later campaign to lobby for the change which it says is supported by 67 per cent of people in the UK – according to polling figures compiled in conjunction with Autoglass.

Were the change to be made the clocks wouldn't go back one autumn and Britain would stay on British Summer Time (BST) throughout the winter - our clocks would also be synchronised with the rest of Europe - then the following spring clocks would go forward one hour to what is known as double summer time. Britain has twice in the past adopted double summer time, the first time was during WWII when it was used to help boost productivity and ensure that munitions workers got home safey rather than having to travel in the dark. The change was then tried again between 1968 and 1971.

The arguments put forward by safety campaigners for the change are that the extra hour of daylight in the mornings is wasted on many people who sleep through it and would be more effective for more people if it were at the end of the working day when tired drivers are more likely to make mistakes which have serious consequences for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. BRAKE say that 450 lives a year would be saved by such a move.

From a cycling point of view the move would dramatically decrease the number of days on which commuter cyclists in most of the country rode home in the dark – it would though increase the number of days on which they cycle to work in darkness. It would also lengthen summer evenings and the chances for riding without lights then, too.

The CTC broadly supports the private member's bill of Conservative MP Rebecca Harris on the basis that it would lead to a decrease in the number of road crashes and because of the savings in carbon emissions calculated as another benefit of the change. However the organisation does worry that cyclists will be more vulnerable to accidents involving crashes on ice on dark mornings when more such incidents are likely to take place.

However, Scottish politicians in particular are opposed to a change to double summer time because they believe it would lead to more road deaths in the North of Scotland. Interestingly though RoSPA Scotland has come out in favour of the BRAKE campaign saying, "All the evidence tells us that Scottish road users are much more vulnerable in the afternoon when they are tired and more likely to take longer, more digressive journeys.

"We’re confident that such an experiment would place beyond doubt the proposition that an extra hour of evening daylight would prevent a significant number of deaths and injuries on Scottish roads each year," RoSPA Scotland concluded.

The other body traditionally opposed has been Scottish farmers, but this week the NFU in Scotland backed Harris' bill, in a statement saying, "The effect on agriculture of changing the clocks by an hour has reduced over the years but it is important to bear in mind that regardless of what the actual time is on the clock, there are only a set number of daylight hours available to farmers in any one day, during which they still have to carry out the bulk of their daily work and enjoy some social life.

"The impact of any change to daylight saving time will not be uniform across the UK," the Scottish NFU continued, "so we need to analyse the particular Scottish impacts of such a change and the success of the planned private member’s bill may provide that platform."

The Government currently opposes the bill on the grounds that it does not seek consultation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  According to the BBC the Department for Business is going to table amendments allowing for consultation that would allow Westminster to support the bill.

In the meantime organisations such as BRAKE and the insurer Cycleguard are urging cyclists to break out the high-viz as the clocks go back, police forces across the country are preparing for their annual blitz on 'anti-social cyclists' who ride without lights and in a more constructive vein Madison, the distributor of Blackburn lights will be handing out free lights to commuters in London on Monday

21 user comments

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i am not looking forward to commuting next week, there is always a couple of weeks as the drivers discover that you can't see as well in the dark...

I can avoid most of the dark issues on the way to work, but going home not a chance.

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posted by mrmo [1022 posts]
29th October 2011 - 22:59

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Hi-viz alone is not enough. You need something written on the back that can be mistaken for something official. Drivers are reluctant to run over official types. Social conditioning FTW. Promotional hi-vizes from council projects were good but maybe they'll have gone in the cuts.

posted by a.jumper [681 posts]
29th October 2011 - 23:17

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what were the reasons for abandoning the double BST in 1971? It would be interesting to know what changed their minds.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
29th October 2011 - 23:33

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Sadly for me londonplayer I'm a really old bloke and as i remember it the reason for abandoning double summer time was nothing to do with the merits or demerits of the case - a subsequent govt white paper, which was probably a bit of a stitch up, said that nothing could be discerned either way - the reason it ended was a deal between the govt of the day and the Scots Nats for votes, nothing to do with the actual merits of the case either way.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
30th October 2011 - 2:37

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just make the change in England and let the scots do whatever they want , its a different country isnt it?..

posted by scrapper [60 posts]
30th October 2011 - 9:07

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Tony,

Thanks. Now that Scotland is almost independent, I think it's time to switch over. If they decide to keep to GMT, that's up to them. And two time zones can work in proximity as anyone who has ever lived on the Portuguese/Spanish border will confirm.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
30th October 2011 - 11:22

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This comes up every year, but I hadn't realised before why it got abandoned in 1971.

For me it makes no difference in the evenings - I was already riding home in the dark last week. In the mornings, well, I just find it easier and less depressing not to have to get up when it's still pitch black.

Noli porcum linguere

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posted by captain_slog [263 posts]
30th October 2011 - 14:55

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Where it would make a difference is during the summer time, using CET instead of BST would at least grant people an extra hour of outdoor evening leisure time. Winter is dark no matter how you try to shift it around. You'll never win the hearts of the Scots on this, it's even darker in the winter and they already get extra time in the summer thanks to their northern lattitude.

Taking the longest day (summer solstice) as an example:

Glasgow 17h 35m 15s of daylight
Bristol 16h 37m 53s of daylight

And the shortest day (winter solstice):

Glasgow 6h 58m 42s of daylight
Bristol 7h 50m 10s of daylight

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posted by the_mikey [146 posts]
30th October 2011 - 15:59

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Changing the clocks doesn't actually alter the amount of daylight hours and, in the modern world and its global economy, probably as many people are inconvenienced by the clocks changing as benefit from any temporary benefit.

posted by swede54 [7 posts]
30th October 2011 - 18:27

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what about moving it by half an hour and leaving it at that?

Big Grin

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posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
30th October 2011 - 19:16

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@the_mikey

You're exactly right - for the Scots this is no win & all lose

But in line with other posters comments, I really don't see why different areas of the UK (or perhaps eventually different nations of the British Isles?) can't have different timezones

It works elsewhere - perhaps we British just aren't capable of proper management?

posted by mad_scot_rider [536 posts]
30th October 2011 - 21:35

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Fringe wrote:
what about moving it by half an hour and leaving it at that?

Big Grin

Class - I'd live with that. Split the difference and see who notices. As other posters have already said, it's not as if we actually get any more daylight; we just move the clocks around a bit

posted by woollee23 [92 posts]
31st October 2011 - 1:27

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AS has been said, its a no win all lose up here once you get past the borders of Scotland, its dark enough already in winter without changing the times from what people are used to

Yes it MIGHT have an economic benefit down south but not up here and i feel the Scottish government will say NO NO NO NO or else i hope they will

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posted by Gkam84 [8681 posts]
31st October 2011 - 9:40

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posted by mad_scot_rider [536 posts]
31st October 2011 - 10:29

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"But in line with other posters comments, I really don't see why different areas of the UK (or perhaps eventually different nations of the British Isles?) can't have different time zones" mad_scot_rider

Britain used to be like this until they standardised the time due to the railways. Nearly every town had their own 'local' time!!

In some ways I can see the argument BUT those of us up north and in particular Scotland it is still going to be dark before quiting work and then the double whammy of being dark before work! This whole thing can only mean an increase in accidents at both sides of the day. The Double Summer Time will also mean even shorter nights as well - how many of us have tried sleeping when still light at 1am!!

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posted by giff77 [1036 posts]
31st October 2011 - 11:51

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Last week i rode to work in the dark, this week i ride home in the dark, to be honest i feel safer this week.

People haven't just fallen out of bed, and aren't rushing to clock in.

I think we should stay as we are.

posted by mr_leemur [24 posts]
1st November 2011 - 22:38

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The problem, particularly in the Highlands of Scotland, is the dark PLUS the often horrendous winter weather up there can combine to produce absolutely treacherous conditions on roads which are already tricky.

Rather than legislate for changing the clocks, legislation allowing employers/schools and employees to alter their working day to suit the prevailing conditions in their location would be better, surely?

posted by moonbucket [55 posts]
2nd November 2011 - 0:49

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The nonsense continues.
Saving daylight saves light, heat (heaven knows the economy needs it and its for free) and most importantly it saves lives - every statistic supports that fact.
I have also yet to meet a Scotish cow that can tell the time.
Stop messing about and use BST now and forever

Alg

posted by alg [126 posts]
2nd November 2011 - 10:53

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As far as I know the experiment in 1971 (which wasn't the same as what is being proposed it was BST all year round) did not have any quantifiable benefit. That does not make it a failure.

The fact is that people are more tired in the evenings than the mornings, which is why safety organisations are backing this move. It will also mean that your cycling club can have an extra four 19:00 time trials during the year (or any other evening event).

Let's hope that the whole of the UK will back this change.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [278 posts]
2nd November 2011 - 13:22

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The real problem is we work too many hours... The rest is swings & roundabouts, You can't create more or less daylight... giving with one hand & taking away with the other! some will suffer & some benefit!

What a pointless argument this is... if you are really affected by daylight hours i.e deppresion move to a country that gets more daylight Wink

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posted by Paulo [107 posts]
2nd November 2011 - 15:06

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I don't care what they do in the winter- they can keep it as is - but in summer we should definitely be on European time as we get long evenings and don't waste so much daylight early in the morning. If the Scotts don't like it they don't have to join us. Actually I work at home so if it wasn't for the school-run I could keep to my own hours anyway.

Andy

posted by jazzdude [59 posts]
4th November 2011 - 20:51

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