IAM says bringing Britain's clocks forward an hour year-round would save lives on the road

Road safety charity cites DfT data showing higher proportion of serious incident on GB roads in the evening

by Simon_MacMichael   October 29, 2012  

Hi-Viz cyclist © Simon MacMichael.jpg

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.

 

24 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I'm sure there are a lot of other measures which would improve road safety more than this, 20 mph speed limits, harsher penalties for motorists etc. This is just going to make it darker in the mornings. There is a reason we're not on CET: we're not in Central Europe.

posted by pjay [224 posts]
29th October 2012 - 18:23

like this
Like (4)

I wholeheartedly would welcome moving our clocks to a time that will make it lighter for the vast majority of the UK's population at its travelling times.

There is little more moiserable than it getting dark by 5pm.

If the Scots want to remain on GMT, there is no reason why there couldn't be a separate Scottish timezone. Portugal and Spain both have 2 timezones.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [156 posts]
29th October 2012 - 18:28

like this
Like (3)

Fewer incidents in the winter than in the summer?
Could that be because there are fewer cyclists on the roads in winter? Thinking

posted by thnurg [7 posts]
29th October 2012 - 18:45

like this
Like (2)

If Britain is only classed as the south of England. The government looked at this and the loss to farming and other industries in the north of Scotland meant it was a non starter.

I'm all for making cycling safer, but not at the cost of people's lively-hoods (unless you drive a taxi or bus Devil )

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8590 posts]
29th October 2012 - 19:01

like this
Like (4)

Pjay: "There is a reason we're not on CET: we're not in Central Europe."

Neither is the large chunk of Africa that is on the same time zone as Western Europe. UK lies within same longitude as most of Spain and a lot of France, so there is a good argument the other way.

Edgley: "Portugal and Spain both have 2 timezones"

Isn't that just some of the islands out in the Atlantic in both cases though?

Thnurg: "Could that be because there are fewer cyclists on the roads in winter?"

Well that's true but it doesn't explain why the rate of incidents is also lower.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7781 posts]
29th October 2012 - 19:29

like this
Like (3)

It's plausible that only more experienced cyclists continue to cycle through the cold.and dark months, so rate could be lower generally but still worse for these people when it's dark. I've no evidence for this though.

posted by HKCambridge [104 posts]
29th October 2012 - 19:37

like this
Like (7)

Yes, the Spanish and Portuguese have one timezone for the mainland and a different one for the Canaries and Madiera. But the point is that there is no reason why a country should have only one timezone England could have CET, and if they want it, the Scots (and Welsh, and N Irish) could stick to the current arrangement. And I could cycle home in light.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [156 posts]
29th October 2012 - 19:45

like this
Like (4)

But if it was darker in the morning then the casualty rate would probably change again. We did try not moving the clocks back at some point in the past and it wasn't followed through with for whatever reason. Might be interesting to look back at the stats for that period. Whichever way you slice it there are only so many hours of daylight. Given the fact that people tend to be more in a rush in the morning and children/teenagers (generally the most vulnerable road users) have to go to school early and come back earlier than adults usually, the way it's done now is probably better.

The only change I would like would be another hour of daylight in the evening in the summer months (say May to August) when it gets light very early in the morning, so have 2 changes a year instead of 1. This would put us in sync with most of the rest of Europe for a certain period at least.

posted by Alan Tullett [1420 posts]
29th October 2012 - 19:48

like this
Like (5)

The stats for the last time we had double summer time showed that overall casualites went down everywhere - including in Scotland. The reason commonly cited for this is that although it was darker in the mornings - people were also less tired and more alert to danger, whereas when it's dark in the evenings they are more tired and less alert.

I can remember double summertime - it was fantastic.

It wasn't abandoned because it was unpopular or unsafe it went because the minority Labour Government of the day needed the support of the Scots Nats and that was a sop to try and get it. It was a real benefit to the vast majority of the population and these days you'd have to assume that the benefits to the tourism industry would far outweigh any potential losses incurred a small part of the farming industry.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4129 posts]
29th October 2012 - 20:03

like this
Like (4)

Tony - I agree completely. And now the Scots have devolution, and possibly will opt to go the whole hog and be a different country altogether, there is no reason to have 1 timezone from Dover to Orkney. Sorry to keep pointing this out.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [156 posts]
29th October 2012 - 21:03

like this
Like (2)

This gets brought up every year. Problem is, it is only the very south that 'benefits' anywhere north of Manchester and Northern Ireland will be plunged into darkness until late morning. This was experimented in the early seventies late sixties and nothing came out of it.

It would mean more sleepy, distracted, rushing drivers around on the a.m. run and all for that extra hour in the evening. Also for the likes of myself - people starting work at 5 and 6 am would be travelling to work all the year round in the dark.

IAM would be better pressing for a safer environment for all road users. Personally I don't think scrapping the current setup will make roads any safer.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1026 posts]
29th October 2012 - 21:47

like this
Like (1)

"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, "

Surely this suggests that darker evenings following the existing clock change are better for cyclist safety? How can the report come to the opposite conclusion?

posted by DNAse [22 posts]
29th October 2012 - 21:56

like this
Like (3)

Tony, I think that 40 years on, our lifestyles are more hurried and pressured. School run then work etc. I may be wrong, but it's my observation that over the years that driving skills have become poor to say the least. I also remember the experiment except for me I had to travel to school in the dark. My primary school over those few years put a stop to us cycling to school Sad

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1026 posts]
29th October 2012 - 22:07

like this
Like (5)

I remember the experiment 40 years ago too. I grew up in Scotland and we had to put up with those dark school journeys. It is all very well to talk about changing what we have at present but I've never been convinced by the safety claims made by those wanting to change the system.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2098 posts]
29th October 2012 - 22:50

like this
Like (4)

The simple answer to this is to tow Britain south until it is level with Portugal. We get a better climate and less extremes of light and dark at the height of summer and in the depths of winter.

Ah! Condor

posted by Bedfordshire Clanger [306 posts]
30th October 2012 - 1:21

like this
Like (2)

I'm with OldRidgeback in thinking the claims are a bit dubious.

I would much rather they got rid of BST and satyed on GMT or whatever all year round. Yawn

djcritchley's picture

posted by djcritchley [145 posts]
30th October 2012 - 9:20

like this
Like (5)

Bedfordshire Clanger wrote:
The simple answer to this is to tow Britain south until it is level with Portugal. We get a better climate and less extremes of light and dark at the height of summer and in the depths of winter.

I like the idea in principle but I think there might be a few technical issues to be considered.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2098 posts]
30th October 2012 - 9:43

like this
Like (3)

Rather than messing around with time zones, why don't we just start and finish work an hour earlier, eg: 8 - 4 instead of 9 - 5? That way you still get lighter evenings for the ride home and we don't bugger everything up.

And farmers can continue blocking up the back roads at whatever time of day they feel like...

posted by TheSpaniard [36 posts]
30th October 2012 - 10:15

like this
Like (1)

OldRidgeback wrote:
Bedfordshire Clanger wrote:
The simple answer to this is to tow Britain south until it is level with Portugal. We get a better climate and less extremes of light and dark at the height of summer and in the depths of winter.

I like the idea in principle but I think there might be a few technical issues to be considered.

Surely those issues could be overcome with the collective brainpower of road.cc? It would definitely be worth it. We could solve all the airport expansion issues too - no need for extra runways if everyone holidays in the UK's newly desirable climate.

posted by step-hent [644 posts]
30th October 2012 - 10:19

like this
Like (3)

Why change it around when it works as it is. The accidents wont fall as its driver / rider error not the dark (although there are occasions of bad light causing accidents).

Airport expansion - there's a good topic. Why, when we have brilliant airports in the north, manchester and newcastle to name 2, do we need more runways in the south.

There was a survey done whereby something like 40% of people from manchester flew through heathrow due to the flights not flying from manchester. Simple, ge tthe airlines to relocate some flights and this takes the pressure off heathrow and no more runway needed.

Jobs in the north would be created and the toffy nosed southerners would get their way. There is more than enough room for extra flights at both Newcastle and Manchester not to mention the liokes of L'pool and Glasgow. Anyway i have moved off topic a bit so i'll shut up now. Big Grin

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2611 posts]
30th October 2012 - 11:00

like this
Like (4)

tony_farrelly wrote:
The stats for the last time we had double summer time showed that overall casualites went down everywhere - including in Scotland.

Yes, correct. But I just wish they'd stop b^88ering about with the clocks altogether - GMT all year round, please.

You can't create more daylight. If you want to be out and about when it's light and not when it's dark, then get up earlier or later.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
30th October 2012 - 11:03

like this
Like (2)

Moving the clocks around doesn't make any difference to the fact that THERE'S LESS DAYLIGHT. It's winter time, it's what happens. Move them forwards, it's just pitch dark in the mornings instead. You can't create extra daylight!

I used to work on a shift system (8am - 8.30pm on the days that I was working) so for about 9 months of the year I needed lights while riding to/from work - changing the clocks made no difference whatsoever.

This same old drivel gets trotted out every year by one campaign or another. It's been put on hold now until 2014 anyway once the Scots have had their referendum on independence.

posted by crazy-legs [470 posts]
30th October 2012 - 11:14

like this
Like (4)

It has been tried before, it didn't work then and won't work now. From a biological prospective it is also nonsense, but then when have motoring lobbyists ever bothered with inconvenient things like evidence or science.

posted by Kim [126 posts]
4th November 2012 - 22:40

like this
Like (0)

'Yes, correct. But I just wish they'd stop b^88ering about with the clocks altogether - GMT all year round, please.

This.

Darkness north of the border - Have the scotch not got electricity yet?

posted by andyp [757 posts]
21st November 2012 - 11:26

like this
Like (4)