Making the Most of Daylight Hours, The Implications for Scotland

  • Published: Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminster, 2010
  • Authors: M. Hillman
  • Date Added: 18 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 18 Mar 2013
  • Format: pdf

Objectives:

Assess the consequences of the proposal to introduce Single Double Summertime (SDST) for all sectors of Scottish society.Establish whether a move to lighter evenings would be of general benefit to people in Scotland.

Methodology:

Review of existing literature and data.

Key Findings:

  • Recently policymakers have been looking at this issue more closely, with an eye to possible reform. The most widely-discussed proposal is to move to GMT+1 in the winter and GMT+2 in the summer – essentially advancing the UK’s clocks by one hour throughout the year.

  • Alternative time regimes have historically struggled to gain traction, thanks in no small part to concerns about their effect on people in Scotland whose northerly latitude makes for particularly short winter days. Opponents of the change in Scotland worry that, were SDST to be implemented, the loss of daylight in the morning would offset or outweigh the benefits of the extra light in the afternoons and evenings.

  • Surveys show that road RTIs are more likely to occur during the evening peak, when driver attentiveness declines and darkness reduces visibility. Aligning the evening ‘peak in traffic with daylight hours is therefore anticipated to reduce the frequency of such RTIs.

  • The 1998 study by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) on the impact of the clock change on road casualties estimated that it would lead to an overall reduction of 0.7 per cent deaths and serious injuries on Scotland’s roads, with a 0.2 per cent reduction in casualties of all severities.

  • Applying these estimates to 2009 road casualty figures for Scotland implies potential reductions of around 20 deaths or serious injuries and around 30 casualties of all severities.

  • Examination of ‘time budget’ surveys show that children’s travel, involving journeys to friends’ houses, or to places of recreation, occupies nearly as much of their time as journeys to and from school, and that far more of it takes place in the late afternoon and early evening than in the morning peak hour when children are usually travelling straight to school.

  • However, it should be noted that the TRL report acknowledged a fair degree of uncertainty in its estimates. Indeed, there are strong grounds for suggesting that they are conservative.

  • Because the risk of casualties on Scottish roads is higher than in England and Wales, there is also greater scope for casualty reduction.

  • Based on the Department for Transport’s figures for the costs of road casualties, the value attached to these reductions would be in the region of £8 million.

  • The evidence presented in this report indicates that advancing the clocks would bring the Scottish people at least as great benefits as those predicted for the rest of the UK. This finding - combined with recent Scottish polls showing fairly evenly-divided support for and against the move - adds up to an exceptionally strong case for reform.

Themes:

Scotland, Casualties, Children, Cost, Lighter evenings, SDST.

Comments:

Provides specific information about the effect of SDST on Scotland.

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