Making The Most Of Daylight Saving: Research On British Summer Time
British Summer Time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday 25th March this year (2007). Surveys suggest that both safety and energy saving would ensue from BST year-round, and a large majority of people will welcome the lighter evenings. But why have we just had to endure five months of days which end before the afternoon teabreak?
The evidence becomes ever more compelling…. As the Transport Research Laboratory has demonstrated over many years, British Summer Time is indeed best for almost all of us.
There are inevitably risks in any change, but sometimes the biggest risk lies in Doing Nothing. That’s what applies to the odd practice of reducing afternoon daylight (in favour of ‘lighter mornings’) at the very point in the year when there is already least of it.
The 1968 – 71 ‘experiment’
The oft-recycled stories about children ‘hating’ having to wear fluorescent jackets because of the super-dangerous mornings during the ‘experiment’ of 1968 – 71 are selective recall, I’d suggest. I don’t think I ever saw one child so clad.
But the debate goes on. And recently, as the TheyWorkForYou.com website admirably demonstrates, Tim Yeo MP has been proposing Single / Double Summer Time, which has incensed some even more.
The Scottish dimension
We know of course that there are people in Scotland who would prefer to keep the status quo, regardless of the proven greater overall risks of accidents, depression and poor health, but with devolved government, as Tim Yeo and before him Lord Tanlaw acknowledged, these can surely be addressed by those most involved.
But even in Scotland opinion is divided and the evidence for the status quo doesn’t fully stack up (unless Scottish cows have learnt to tell the time and will rumble their herdsman adjusting
the alarm clock to keep their bovine stock’s milking hours stable…).
As Tim Yeo and Lord Tanlaw have emphasised, even in Scotland there are plenty of people who would prefer the lighter evenings, whilst YouGov have found (December 2006) that 51% of workers feel less safe travelling home in the dark, with 71% of women saying the dark makes them feel uncertain and worried.
Likewise, when Victor Keegan ran a campaign a few months ago, he easily achieved his objective of 50 people asking their MPs to support Tim Yeo’s bill. On energy saving grounds alone there are compelling reasons to suppose we should abandon British Mean Time. A majority of those voting supported it, but Tim Yeo’s non-party Bill fell on 26 January
2007 because it did not gain more than one hundred votes.
Another way forward?
So what’s holding things up? There are rather feeble claims (see TheyWorkForYou.com, as above) that an experiment in Portugal was not successful, but perhaps political nervousness about Scottish issues is, short-term, at the heart of the matter.
There is, however, a very simple and easy way to resolve things once and for all. Why not actually undertake a serious Government-led enquiry into all the evidence available, on energy, accidents, health, business and other impacts, examining England (and Wales and Northern Ireland) separately from Scotland?
And let’s ask for the report to be produced by Sunday 28 October 2007, before the next grim return to Winter darkness, when
British Summer Time is due to end. This, it seems to me, is a genuinely good example of when policy can indeed be informed by best practice in natural and social scientific research.
It really does need to be done, and soon.
The full debate about BST is in the section of this website entitled BST: British Summer Time & ‘Daylight Saving’ (The Clocks Go Back & Forward)…..
Save Our Daylight: Victor Keegan’s Pledge Petition
The Clocks Go Forward…And Back… And Forward…
British Summer Time Draws To A Close
Time Is Energy (And ‘Clocks Forward’ Daylight Uses Less)
The Clocks Go Forward … But Why, Back Again?
Read the discussion of this article which follows the book E-store…
Posted on March 2, 2007, in BST: British Summer Time And 'Daylight Saving', Education, Health And Welfare, Sustainability As If People Mattered and tagged British Summer Time, Daylight saving. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.