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RoSPA backs European Parliament proposal to scrap clock changes

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is calling for the UK to scrap twice-yearly clock changes to help prevent serious injury and death on the road.

RoSPA says adopting permanent British Summer Time could save lives

The call is in line with the European Commission proposal – adopted on 12 September 2018 and backed by the European Parliament this week – to scrap the practice, with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker having underlined that “Member States should themselves decide whether their citizens live in summer or winter time.”

The current EU plan is to stop clock changes in 2021 and the UK would need to fit in with this if it stays in the EU or under a deal transition period – but RoSPA is calling for the UK to permanently adopt British Summer Time as it highlights the marked spike in the number of vulnerable road users killed and seriously injured every autumn when the clocks go back.

According to the Department of Transport, pedestrian deaths in 2017 rose from 37 in September to 46 in October, 63 in November, and 50 in December.

RoSPA chief executive Errol Taylor said: “Clock changes were first introduced in 1916 to reflect the needs of a nation at war. However, our priority now should be the prevention road accidents that cause serious injury and death.”

Although the proposal is expected to cause issue, including with farmers, Taylor said the focus should be on saving lives.

“We know that the clock change kills people,” he continued. “During the working week, casualty rates peak at 8am and 10am and 3pm and 7pm, with the afternoon peak being higher. Road casualty rates increase with the arrival of darker evenings and worsening weather conditions.

“And it is vulnerable road users – such as children on their way home from school and cyclists – who would experience the most benefit. Currently, vulnerable road users have far higher fatality rates per billion passenger miles, and these rates increased for both pedestrians and motorcyclists in 2017. Anything we can do to bring these rates down has to be worth it.”

“While we respect the views of those that want to keep the current system, we must not lose sight of the fact that lives are at stake.”

The road safety charity also said changing the current system would bring additional benefits, including encouraging active travel, reducing electricity bills, enabling tourist and leisure facilities to stay open for longer, and ensuring older people who feel “curfewed” by darkness are enabled to be outdoors for later.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.