Changing the Clocks for Safety

Posted on March 25th, 2011 by David Williams MBE

Changing the Clocks for SafetyWhen I joined the road safety profession in 1972 one of the ‘hot topics’ was the then recent experiment of changing the clocks to provide and extra hour of daylight in the afternoon peak road accident period.

For political reasons, that were far from clear at the time, the experiment was abandoned despite what was believed to be a significant reduction in road accident casualties.

Since that time several in depth research studies have shown clearly that a change to British Summer Times in the winter i.e. one hour ahead of GMT and Double Summer Time during the rest of the year (GMT+2) would prevent over one hundred deaths and many hundreds of serious injuries on the road each and every year.  All of the major road safety organisations including GEM Motoring Assist waited in anticipation for what would be the most cost effective life saving measure of all time.  Yet 40 years on still no change has taken place.

There are many reasons why this simple change in the way we manage our clocks would benefit the nation as a whole:

• A significant reduction in road accidents during the peak afternoon travel period.

• This reduction would outweigh many times over any small increase in early morning crashes.

• A total saving of around 100 lives and many thousands of injuries on our roads.  This includes Scotland.

• A huge saving in energy costs as more energy is consumed in the afternoon/evening than in the early morning.

• A significant benefit in lowering emissions and CO2 as energy demands would be reduced.

• A benefit to tourism and leisure with winter afternoons having more daylight for outdoor pursuits.

• A benefit in terms of health of the nation with fewer accidents and an increase in outdoor activities in the winter.
These are but a few of the advantages of making a simple change to our clocks.

I hope that my 40 year wait will soon be over and that more than 100 families each and every year will be saved from the trauma of an unnecessary death on the road.