Should we stick with British Summer Time?

29 March 2021

The clocks went forward an hour on 28 March, moving the country into British Summer Time (BST), and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has called for the move to be made permanent in order to save lives and improve wellbeing.

RoSPA chief executive, Errol Taylor, explained that daylight savings were introduced more than a century ago to increase productivity during the First World War but, faced with a very different set of challenges, it is time for change.

“In addition to preventing road deaths and injuries, maintaining BST all-year-round will allow for more daylight in the evenings to enjoy social activities which is particularly important for promoting wellbeing during the colder months,” he went on.

In 2019, according to statistics provided by the Department for Transport (DfT), pedestrian deaths as a result of road accidents rose from 36 in October, to 54 in November and 57 in December.

In 2018 a similar pattern emerged, with pedestrian fatalities as a result of road accidents rising from 40 in October to 56 in November and 70 in December. RoSPA calls this the daylight savings spike.

As to why there are more accidents in the afternoons and evenings, the road safety body suggests:

  • motorists are more tired after a day’s work and concentration levels are lower

  • children tend to go directly to school in the morning but often digress on their way home, which increases their exposure to road dangers

  • adults tend to go shopping or visit friends after work, increasing their journey times and exposure to road dangers

  • social and leisure trips are generally made in the late afternoon and evenings, again increasing time on the road.

RoSPA has provided a template letter supporting the move to stay on BST which it suggests could be sent to local MPs. It can be found on the RoSPA website.