Daylight Saving

Should we wind the clocks forward?

Daylight savings

Where do you stand in the debate about Daylight Saving Time? Here we set out the pros and cons of the argument for winding the clocks forward.

When the clocks go back in late October and you suddenly find yourself driving home from work in the dark, conversations turn to the question of time and the benefits (or not) of winding the clocks forward for lighter evenings all year around.

Lighter Later, coordinated by the environmental group 10:10, is a campaign to "change the clocks so we are awake when the sun is out".

The AA sees the road safety arguments in favour of changing the clocks so that there is less light in the morning and more in the evening and so gives the Lighter Later campaign its full support.

Daylight Saving bill

The Daylight Saving Bill was a Private Member's Bill presented to Parliament in June 2010. The Bill required the Secretary of State to conduct and act on a cross-departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year and was given its second reading in December 2010.

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session which means that it will make no further progress. Speaking on 26 January 2012, Commons Leader Sir George Young confirmed that the Daylight Saving Bill, should not be given any more time because it stood no chance of becoming law.

Lighter Later campaign

Lighter Later, coordinated by the environmental group 10:10, is a campaign to "change the clocks so we are awake when the sun is out".

Lighter later highlights the carbon reduction benefit of shifting the clocks forward by one hour throughout the entire year. Clocks would still go forward in spring and back in autumn but in effect an hour of daylight would be moved from the morning to the evening.

Lighter Later is widely supported by sports and leisure groups including the Central Council for Physical Recreation, the Football Association, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Lawn Tennis Association and safety groups including ROSPA, BRAKE, Road Safety GB, PACTS, and the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation.

AA view

The AA sees the road safety arguments in favour of changing the clocks so that there is less light in the morning and more in the evening and so gives the Lighter Later campaign its full support.

But there are clearly people who disagree with the changes being proposed so running a trial seems sensible.

Andrew Howard, the AA's Head of Road Safety, says: "The seat belt law was similarly controversial back in the 1980s – with many opposed to being required to wear a belt. Then a three-year trial was introduced, and a monitoring system established." The same approach should be used for changing the clocks, with Parliament required to confirm the change three years after its implementation.

2005 MORI survey

In 2005 a MORI survey for the Greater London Authority showed a high level of support for staying on British Summer Time (BST) all year round, therefore ending the practice of putting back the clocks in winter. The plan would mean an extra hour of daylight in the evening but an hour less in the morning. The survey found that 63% of Londoners and 56% of people in Scotland would support staying on BST year round.

When offered the choice between BST all year round, switching to Central European Time (CET) or keeping the current system, a quarter of respondents said they would like to stay on BST, 26% said they would like to change to CET and just under half (47%) said they supported keeping the system as it currently is.

The BST experiment

Between 1968 and 1971 summertime (GMT+1) was retained throughout the year as an experiment, but this was abandoned following a vote in Parliament.
Initial analysis of the test concluded that there was an increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads in the morning but that there was a significantly higher decrease in the number killed or seriously injured in the evenings.

There was some doubt over these figures at the time though because they had not taken into account the fact that drink/drive legislation had been passed in 1967.

In 1989 the Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL) carried out a more sophisticated re-analysis of the data allowing for the drink/drive legislation. TRRL concluded that, had CET been applied in 1987:

  • 810 fewer people would have been killed or seriously injured (1.2%)
  • 2,060 fewer people would have been injured (0.7%)
  • 160 fewer people would have been killed (3.1% of the national total)

This was at a time when total road deaths were 5,125/year compared with the latest, much lower, total of under 2,000/year so potential savings would clearly be lower. Latest estimates are that around 100 lives would be saved per year.

Government view

Speaking at a tourism industry event in London in August 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron was asked whether he was considering moving the clocks forward. In reply he said: "We certainly will look at it. I followed this debate for many years in the 1990s. I think the argument will be won when people across the country feel comfortable with the change.

"It's always been about the problems of getting to school, for children in the north of England and in Scotland. And, you know, we are a United Kingdom. I want us to have a united time zone. It's up to those who want to make the change to make the argument to try to convince people right across the country that it's a good thing. People who like taking part in sporting activity and would like longer days are already quite easy to sway. That's the key to winning this argument."

(Updated October 2012)

 

Need AA Breakdown Cover?

We fix more cars by the roadside than anyone else. Get a quote »

Need AA Breakdown Cover?

Don't use your car very much?

Consider an automatic battery charger and conditioner

CTEK battery charger and conditioner