Daylight Robbery

Charity says GMT's dark evenings put pedestrians at risk

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A leading charity is calling for a rethink of the annual time changes to prevent pedestrians being killed or seriously injured on the streets during the winter months.

Living Streets, which campaigns to create a safe environment for pedestrians, says the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads spikes when the clocks go back, as they do on Sunday (October 25).

The charity says the trend is especially marked for children and older people. In September 2008, before we returned to Greenwich Mean Time there were 577 pedestrians killed or seriously injured nationwide. As winter set in and evenings got darker, this number shot up, with 720 pedestrians killed or seriously injured in October and 666 in November, according to Living Streets.

Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Living Streets, said an extra hour of light in the evenings would make a huge difference: “Lighter evenings would encourage people to stay out and enjoy their streets and would make significant improvements to road safety.

“A government study done way back in 1998 suggested that up to 450 deaths and serious injuries could be prevented each year with this one move. It seems negligent that with this information in their hands they have still not acted. In the intervening years, up to 4,000 people may well have been needlessly killed and injured. Let’s make this year the last time we simply plough on as before: we need a serious trial of British Summer Time over the winter.”

According to Living Streets, the most dangerous time on our roads is generally between 3pm and 6pm, when drivers are heading home for the day and children are making their way home from school.

They say that while pupils tend to head straight for school in the mornings, they are likely to want to go and play in the afternoons. But the start of Greenwich Mean Time in the autumn means the evenings are darker, lowering visibility and making making streets more hazardous.
Similarly, there tend to be fewer older people out and about in the early mornings, meaning the beneficiaries of the current time switch are limited to farmers, and those in the very far north of the country, according to Living Streets.

A DfT spokesperson said: "A wide range of issues would have to be taken into account if a move to single double summertime was to be considered, of which casualty savings is just one.

"For example, any changes to Britain's time-zone would need to have full regard to the positive and negative effects on business and transport links with other countries, health and safety issues, and on social community life."

October 23, 2009