With the clocks going back this Sunday (28 October) IAM RoadSmart has again called to scrap the practice this year, and switch to a daylight saving system to cut the number of young children injured in road crashes on their way home from school over the winter months.
Statistics from the Department for Transport show that of the 15,976 children hurt on Britain’s roads in 2016, nearly a quarter (22%) were hurt during the hours of 3-5pm (reference 1).
The likelihood of a child being involved in a crash on the way home from school increases by 20% over the winter months.
It is well known that casualty rates rise between 3pm and 7pm as the days shorten. IAM RoadSmart warns that the dark afternoons are an especially dangerous time for youngsters coming home, with less supervision and individuals heading off to different activities at different times in this key period.
According to official statistics, in 2016 pedestrian deaths rose from 20 in September to 35 in October, 50 in November and 67 in December (also reference 1).
In 2009, the Department for Transport’s consultation paper ‘A Safer Way: Making Britain’s Roads the Safest in the World’ stated that moving to lighter evenings would prevent about 80 deaths on the road a year (reference 2).
IAM RoadSmart is especially concerned for youngsters aged 10-14, who have graduated to secondary school and are often making their way home solo for the first time. For this age group, road crashes make up over 50% of all external causes of death (reference 3).
IAM RoadSmart is suggesting that to allow extra daylight in the afternoons we should not put the clocks back this winter, then next March move one hour ahead – and then go back one hour in October 2019 (so called ‘double British summer time’ which also aligns us with most of Europe).
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Every year there are unnecessary young victims through the winter as children go home in the darkness from school or out-of-hours activities. This is not difficult to achieve.
“We are playing with the lives of children for no good reason. Young pedestrians under 15 are already a huge ‘at risk’ group for road safety, and that risk becomes even greater as the nights draw in.
“It would be easy to implement, and without question save lives – so there are no good road safety reasons why this isn’t happening. The UK should at least trial the idea to prove the benefits once and for all.”