With many cycle commuters due to ride home in the dark this evening for the first time in months after the clocks went back at the weekend, a road safety charity has called on the government to adjust the UK’s time zone to bring it forward by an hour in both winter and summer, which it claims would lead to a reduction in the number of road traffic casualties.
According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), crashes are more likely to take place in the evening and it say that analysis of data from the Department for Transport (DfT) suggest that its proposed change to daylight hours could help prevent 80 deaths and more than 200 serious injuries each year due to fewer hours of darkness in the evening. It adds that the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured last November was 5 per cent higher than the monthly average for the year.
IAM chief executive Simon Best commented: “Making evenings lighter would save lives. While an extra hour of daylight would help to make the commute home much safer for all road users, children, cyclists and motorcyclists would benefit most.”
“We want to see a three-year trial of the new daylight system. If the trial period proves the new daylight hours have a positive effect on road safety, it is clear that it is the system we should keep. With convincing evidence of the potential benefits, it is only right that we pilot a new system.”
During 2011, according to road.cc’s analysis of data contained in the DfT’s Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2011, published last month, some 437 cyclists were killed or seriously injured during the year between the hours of 7am and 9am.
The peak two-hour period for cyclist casualties on weekdays, however, was between 5pm and 7pm, with 500 reported deaths or serious injuries, while there were 375 such incidents in the two hours immediately preceding that time, from 3pm to 5pm.
However, the same report also shows a drop in the casualty rate for cyclists killed or seriously injured per billion kilometres travelled for November compared to October, with the winter months of January, February and December lower still. The casualty rate peaked in the period from April to September.
Bringing the clocks forward by an hour throughout the year would also bring the UK into line with most of Western Europe, with Portugal and the Republic of Ireland the only EU Member States to share our time zone.
Now the nights are drawing in, if you find your current lights aren’t quite passing muster, don’t forget you can use road.cc’s bike light comparison tool to help choose a new set.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.