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Scrap the Clocks Change – RoSPA Calls for Permanent British Summer Time

Scrap the Clocks Change – RoSPA Calls for Permanent British Summer Time
22 October 2020

Why do the clocks change each autumn? The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is presenting evidence for ending the clock change, as British Summer Time comes to an end. 

The preventative body says that when the clocks go back each year and the evenings become darker, there are a number of negative impacts on our safety and wellbeing.

Research shows that the number of road casualties rises, with the effects being worse for the most vulnerable road users like children, older people, cyclists and motorcyclists.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) calls the clocks change “unnecessary” and has campaigned against it for several years, calling on the government to instead keep British Summer Time (BST) all year round.

They argue that the lack of sunlight resulting from the time change affects people’s general mental health and leads to more people being isolated in their homes. This has an effect on hospitality and leisure businesses such as pubs, museums, restaurants, and on the tourism industry more generally, which will be exacerbated given the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Since 1960 RoSPA has campaigned to save lives by altering the daylight savings system.” 

–Nick Lloyd

Head of Road Safety, RoSPA


Why do the Clocks Change?


The custom of changing the clocks by an hour started more than 100 years ago. 

In 1916, Parliament passed the Summer Time Act, thereby creating British Summer Time. It was the result of a campaign started in 1907 by William Willett to stop people wasting valuable hours of light in the summer months and to save fuel during the First World War.

According to a YouGov survey in 2019, more than half of people want to scrap the clocks change and given the choice, 59 per cent of British people would prefer British Summer Time all year long.

The same survey also revealed that less than half of people want to keep the clock change, while two in five people actively want to see it scrapped.


Higher Incidences of Pedestrian Deaths and Road Traffic Collisions from the Clocks Change


Recent research by the RAC Foundation confirms that road traffic collisions increase by 19 per cent in the fortnight after putting the clocks back one hour from BST to GMT, and they reduce by 11 per cent when we put the clocks forward onto BST.

In 2019, pedestrian deaths rose from 33 in September and 36 in October, to 54 in November and 57 in December.


Pedestrian crossing

Picture: a photograph of a pedestrian crossing, showing a green figure that shows it's safe for pedestrians to cross a road


Isolation and Seasonal Affective Disorder


In addition to the actual government-mandated ten PM curfew, social activities are also curbed by the darker evenings that the time change brings.

Although we have more light in the mornings, this occurs when many of us are either still in bed, or indoors getting ready for work or school. That means that we have less usable daylight in the evenings to do the things we enjoy in the outdoors or in social environments.

The darkness curfew also means that our health and wellbeing can be impacted significantly, leading to conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and people who are nervous about being out and about when it’s dark can become more socially isolated. 

As we are spending more of our evenings in the dark, our energy and fuel costs increase. In a government consultation, evidence was given that demonstrates the risk of heart attack increases by ten per cent when we have to put the clocks forward again in the spring.


Why Scrap the Clock Change?


RoSPA believes that by scrapping the clock change, the UK will avoid the sudden spike in pedestrian casualties, and that we will all be able to enjoy more usable, evening daylight for more of the year, spending time and money doing the things we love.

This is particularly important as the UK seeks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, to aid the economy and job market within sectors such as hospitality and leisure.

It would also help to tackle the loneliness and depression that many are feeling due to lockdown and other restrictions, as there will be more daylight during waking hours, thus helping us to socialise – in line with current coronavirus measures - more easily.

Picture: a photograph of a clock on a yellow background

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 22 October 2020


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