Road safety – would extending Daylight Saving by one hour avoid accidents and save lives?

Over the past years, proposals to extend Daylight Saving by one hour for the entire year has been met with fierce opposition.  In particular, it is opposed by farmers, outdoor workers and many residents of Northern Ireland and Scotland as in the winter months, the sun would not rise much before 10am.  In addition, some parents worry about their children having accidents whilst going to school during dark mornings.

Road safety

In 2008, a campaign  to extend the extra hour as an experiment for 3 years between 2008 and 2011 was proposed. Those in favour of the extra hour argued that it would boost tourism and energy efficiency, and provide more leisure time for outdoor pursuits. But the most significant argument was that it had the potential to increase road safety by reducing road traffic accidents as the roads would be less busy for longer periods later in the day.

The 2008 campaign, however, was unsuccessful and the debate fell quiet – until now.  The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), using the latest statistics available from the DoT notes more pedestrians are killed and injured in the winter months after the hour goes back in October.  Equally, there are fewer casualties after the hour goes forward in March.  Figures show this to be a consistent trend.

Arguments against the extra hour is based on outdated data (from 1968-71), and therefore RoSPA are pushing for another experiment to be conducted.  In fact, even when the last experiment was conducted, (when GMT+1 was in place throughout the entire year), it concluded that around 2,500 deaths and serious injuries were prevented during each year of the trial period.

Vicki Wright, Personal Injury Solicitor at Swain & Co says, “Clearly, the volume of traffic and cyclists on our roads since the late 60s/early 70s has increased dramatically and the merits of undertaking another experiment are compelling. In my view, anything that helps reduce injuries and death caused by road accidents must be a worthwhile exercise”.