It’s a well-known fact that more accidents occur on our roads, many of them involving cyclists, during the Winter. Once the clocks change, as they have recently and our evenings are darker earlier, the danger to cyclists on the roads increases. Of course it’s not just cyclists that are affected, the elderly, children and motorcyclists are all at greater risk from the darker evenings.
You may be aware of a proposal to alter what we know as ‘British Summertime’. The SDST or Single/Double British Summertime proposition would mean adopting GMT+1 in the Winter months with GMT+2 in the Summer. The clocks would be 1 hour further forward than they are now in the Winter, and 2 hours further forward in the Summer. The result would be fewer accidents on the roads (effectively our Winter daylight hours would be the same as our current Summer) because of lighter evenings all year round. However, it’s not just the roads that would benefit, it’s thought that significant benefits would be felt economically, environmentally and to general health too. The change would also align us with Central European Time Zone so aiding business transactions and business travel.
The Pros to SDST:
The biggest advocate of altering the time in this way is ROSPA or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. They have very compelling evidence that this change would result in fewer accidents, particularly in the evenings when there is currently a road accident peak. Many factors affect this increase, including the fact that motorists are more tired and less focused after a tiring day at work. Of course, the flip side is that SDST would mean darker mornings and so slight rise in accidents, but they predict an overall drop.
Other benefits include the ability to trade with Europe at the same time of the day, a reduction in Co2 due to less car pollution, an extended Tourism season, and an increase in outdoor leisure activities across the whole year. Gardeners would benefit too with the UK experiencing an average 55 extra minutes of daylight every day.
We are sure there are lots of cyclists out there who would welcome the change, particularly if it makes the roads a safer place. But what is the downside to SDST? Surely if it was all good we would have seen it implemented by now?
The Cons to SDST:
The biggest downside to changing the clocks in this way is having to deal with much darker mornings. An experiment back in the very early 1970’s saw the clocks altered in this way yet it didn’t last long and was cancelled after just 3 years. Farmers for example are greatly affected, with much of their work being done in the early mornings. If milking finishes at 7am when it’s just starting to get light, SDST would mean a whole morning working in the dark, with the potential for more accidents. And what about Scotland and northern parts of England. One of the main reasons the 1968/71 experiment was called to a halt was because of an increase in child-related accidents in the mornings. ROSPA does say, however that the report at the time failed to mention a decrease in child-related accidents in the afternoons.
So what happens next? Well SDST as a proposal has been around for some time but it has yet to make it to the Commons for debate. In 2012 the Daylight Savings Bill failed to make its passage through Parliament and no further action was taken.
For Cyclists, many we’re sure would welcome the change, but there are negative consequences to several communities and so it’s unlikely we’ll see it happen anytime soon.
What do you think? Would you welcome a change to Daylight Saving hours?
Don’t forget to wear your high visibility clothing to help you be seen in the dark. Lots of options in our online store!