Should the UK adopt permanent summer time

Brexit could mean permanent British Summer Time

Two fifths of UK drivers support a permanent Summer Time, but 45% of Scottish drivers are opposed to any change

24 October 2018

In the event of a Brexit deal, the UK would be obliged to implement a permanent Summer Time effectively implemented from next October, following a decision from the European Commission.

The EU Commission found that eight out of 10 (84%) wanted to abolish the current system and so from April 2019 all EU clocks moved to summer time will remain and not be changed back in the October.

Should Britain leave the EU with a deal, the UK would have to carry out the change as the policy comes into effect during the two year transition period.

But the House of Lords will challenge the decision tonight (24 October) as it believes the Commission has overstepped the mark by not allowing member states the opportunity to opt in to such a move.

Late afternoon sun on the motorway

According to a recent AA survey*, two fifths (42%) of UK drivers say that the UK should no longer put their clocks back and stick with British Summer Time permanently, according to a survey from the AA. 

However, 45% of drivers in Scotland are against such a move, aligning with the thoughts of some Scottish dairy farmers as the sun wouldn’t rise until 10:00 in some areas.

One of the main road safety arguments for implementing a permanent summer time are having lighter evenings. According to the latest road casualty statistics**, 53,417 casualties occurred during the 2016 evening rush hour (16:00 – 19:59) compared to 32,036 during the morning rush hour (06:00 – 09:59).

While some in the EU consultation argued for change based on road safety issues, two fifths (42%) referred to their evening leisure activities.

British Summer Time (BST) was first introduced in 1916 following a campaign by the renowned builder, William Willett. While many attempts have been made to change to a permanent summer time, all have failed with the last attempt made in 2012.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA says; “While the thought of an extra hour in bed every October is appealing, opinion is split across the UK about the permanent adoption of summer time.

While the thought of an extra hour in bed every October is appealing, opinion is split across the UK about the permanent adoption of summer time
Jack Cousens, AA head of roads policy

“The prospect of lighter evenings would give way to the winter woes of having to commute to and from work in the dark. But in parts of Scotland, many agricultural workers could be plunged into darkness for long periods of the day.

“Having lighter evenings could provide some road safety benefits too, as more road casualties occurred during the evening rush hour when compared to the morning rush hour.

“While the Lords will debate the prospect of launching a challenge to the directive from the EU commission, the Government hasn’t said if it is ready to call time on BST.

“If the UK is compelled to implement a permanent summer time, drivers will no longer need to wind back the clock.”

*Populus received 20,666 responses from AA members to its online poll between 16 and 22 October 2018

** Table RAS30012

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