More Daylight, Less Injury?

As you will doubtless be aware, the clocks went back last weekend, taking us from British Summer Time to the gloom of mere Greenwich Mean Time, where the light starts to falter, eventually, at about 3pm, a most depressing set of circumstances.

However, there are rumblings afoot that this non-proliferation of precious daylight maybe about to come to an end.

A new campaign, Lighter for Later, is calling for the discrepancy between most parts of continental Europe and the UK to be scrapped. Under this simple new scheme, the clock would be one hour forward of where it currently is, all year round: GMT+2 in the summer and GMT+1 in the winter. This, say the campaigners, would be of undoubted benefit to the UK.

We would all see more sunlight during our waking hours as opposed to sleeping through the first four or five hours after dawn in the summer: businesses and tourist attractions would be able to stay open for longer in the winter evenings, and we would cut down on the amount of artificial lighting required up and down the country, saving money and energy and reducing CO2 emissions.

The campaign has received the backing of Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, who says that it would not only have a positive effect on the country’s economy but also its safety.

And this is where we’re interested. It is undoubtedly more dangerous to drive in winter: with less sunlight drivers are more tired and more prone to making mistakes, visibility is greatly reduced and of course the roads are more slippery.

Opponents to the clock-change have always argued that it makes life more dangerous in the more northern areas of the country, especially Scotland, which are most affected. But Mr Johnson says that surely people are more likely to sustain injury in a crash in the afternoon rush hour, when they have been at work all day and are more exhausted, than they are post-breakfast and refreshed?

With more daylight available to afternoon rush-hour commuters all over the UK, no matter which part they hail from, they will arguably be safer. The Scots will gain around 300 hours of daylight over the course of the year, which will also, it is argued, have a positive affect on the nation’s health as well. More time will be spent outdoors and fewer hours will be frittered away in front of a TV screen.

In the drive to improve road safety and reduce injury and death on the roads, great amounts of money have been spent, many campaigns have been implemented, and many ideas been posited. But this idea is so simple, and has the backing of so many influential figures, that we have to wonder why it hasn’t come up sooner.

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