By Claire West
With the UK set to put its clocks forward this weekend, RoSPA is urging people to back its daylight saving campaign online - so that evenings stay lighter for longer all year round.
For decades, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has been at the forefront of a crusade to give the UK an extra hour of evening daylight - citing research that shows brighter nights would save 80 lives and prevent more than 200 serious injuries on our roads each year.
In addition to the avoidance of grief and suffering, another positive consequence of fewer road accidents would be considerable annual savings to taxpayers.
The initiative has generated powerful momentum in recent months, winning the backing of tens of thousands of people and organisations through 10:10’s Lighter Later coalition - of which RoSPA is a member.
The campaign is closer to succeeding now than at any time since 1970, thanks to Rebecca Harris MP’s Private Members’ Bill - which passed its second reading in Parliament in December with a huge majority.
To help the Bill clear the next hurdle - and to coincide with the start of British Summer Time on Sunday - RoSPA is calling on the public to help convince Westminster of its popularity.
They can do this by clicking the “Support Our Campaign” button at www.rospa.com/about/currentcampaigns/lighter-evenings/. Visitors to the webpage are also encouraged to lend their support to the Lighter Later movement by clicking on the logo that’s prominently displayed near the top.
If successful, the Bill will lead to the Government carrying out a cross-departmental analysis of the benefits of Single/Double Summer Time (GMT+1 in winter / GMT+2 in summer) - which in turn could trigger a three-year trial.
Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA’s chief executive, said: “It’s time for those who’ve seen the light to stand up and be counted for this life-saving proposal.
“All Rebecca Harris’s Bill is calling for is a review of the evidence - so people can see for themselves how positive an impact such a small adjustment will have on their lives.
“It is a change that will benefit all of the UK - but especially Scotland. If the evidence proves to be as irresistible as it is irrefutable, why should we continue to allow scores of people to die and scores more to be seriously hurt on our roads each year? We estimate that about 5,000 deaths and 30,000 serious injuries have been caused needlessly in the UK since the experiment was concluded in 1971.”
Some of the other benefits of SDST include a cut in annual CO2 emissions by nearly 500,000 tonnes, and a boost to the UK tourism industry of up to £3.5billion per year.
Tom Mullarkey added: “Now that the Government has decided not to reduce the drink/drive limit at this time, this campaign stands to save more lives than any other single road safety measure. The Department for Transport estimated in 2009 that it would only cost £5million to implement Single/Double Summer Time and would save more than £138million every year thereafter.
“We believe Rebecca Harris’s Bill will show the true value of making this change not just to the DfT but to all Government departments.”