Call to scrap October clock change because of coronavirus

Call to scrap October clock change because of coronavirus

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being urged to make a bold move and scrap the October clock change to retain British Summer Time through the winter, so consumers can enjoy extra evening daylight to support businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

The traditional autumn clock change, which brings evening darkness forward by an hour, puts an earlier curfew on the UK public, meaning they prefer to be indoors for longer rather than being out spending money with businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors.

Ending the clock change would lead to a short but valuable amount of extra usable evening daylight through the winter months, encouraging people to head out for longer in the evenings after work or school.

RoSPA chief executive Errol Taylor said: “We believe that by taking this pioneering approach – which is low-cost and easy to implement – the Chancellor could provide extra, much-needed income for those businesses that are struggling to survive due to COVID.

“We have written to him and Parliamentary colleagues to urge him to take this proactive approach to protecting the economy, and keep the country at GMT+1 after October 25. By doing so, he will be encouraging consumers to “stay out to help out”.”

Aside from the economic boost, scrapping the clock change would protect the lives of many vulnerable road users.

Every single year, pedestrians and others are needlessly killed due to the October clock change, when the home-time commute is plunged into sudden darkness – in 2019, 54 pedestrians were killed in road collisions in November and 57 in December, compared to 33 in September and 36 in October.

A recent study published by the RAC Foundation also found that road traffic collisions increase by 19 per cent in the two weeks immediately after the clock change.

This happens for a number of reasons, including drivers being fatigued after a day’s work, and pedestrians taking longer to travel from work or school than in the morning as they are not pressured by a deadline.

RoSPA would welcome a trial of year-round BST to confirm the evidence base for a permanent change.

Read more about RoSPA’s call to retain year-round British Summer Time at www.rospa.com/clock-change

Analysis of government statistics by DrivingExperience.com found that 1,611 reported road casualties in 2019 were caused where poor visibility in darker driving conditions was a contributory factor, such as dazzling headlights or pedestrians wearing dark clothing, which will soon be more prevalent as the nights draw in.

Alex MacGregor from DrivingExperience.com said: “Year on year, there has been a significant number of incidents where driver visibility has resulted in a large number of accidents.

“All road users and pedestrians need to take extra care at this time of year, taking into consideration the change of circumstance as the clocks go back.”

In fact, government data shows in the last five years there have been more than 1,600 reported road accidents when not displaying lights at night or in poor visibility was a contributory factor, while there have been almost 1,500 reported accidents when dazzling headlights were a contributory factor.

The DrivingExperience.com analysis of the Department for Transport data also found that over the last five years there were more than 5,700 reported accidents where a rider wearing dark clothing or a pedestrian wearing dark clothing at night was a contributory factor.

Alex added: “As the darker months approach, just a few simple steps can make it safer for motorists and pedestrians.

“For drivers this includes keeping windscreens clear to reduce glare and condensation, while also remembering to dip the headlights when another vehicle is approaching.

“Meanwhile, pedestrians should consider bright clothing or reflective clothing, including arm and ankle bands or hi-vis jackets.”

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