/ Health, Home & Energy

Are you feeling SAD about the clocks going back?

Turning the clocks back

Being American, I love the Holiday Season (I’m still going to celebrate Thanksgiving, albeit remotely – pumpkin pie, anyone?), but I really don’t like it when the clocks go back and the days are shorter.

Now when I get home from work and it’s dark, I’m convinced I must go to bed immediately. I’m also more prone to giving in to Netflix binge urges instead of going to the gym. And, like a squirrel with nuts, I’ve started stockpiling cans of tomato soup for the apocalypse that is a cold night where I don’t want to venture out to buy groceries for dinner. In short, my hibernation mode has kicked in.

Lighting up

I’m definitely someone who feels a big difference when I don’t get as much sunshine during the day. Too many hours of artificial lighting gives me headaches, as does the higher energy bill I find myself faced with from turning on the lights for longer during the winter months.

So I was very intrigued when I saw Lucy, a small, solar-powered robot that is able to make your home brighter by redirecting sunshine. The concept is fairly simple: you mount Lucy either outside or inside your home, and direct it toward the area you’d like to brighten. It then finds and redirects the sunlight.

I feel that such an elegant solution could have a lot of benefits for those of us who get darkness weary. As it’s reflecting natural sunlight, it could help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and I’d definitely feel more alert not being surrounded by fluorescent bulbs at every waking minute.

It’s also exciting that lighting bills might be more, ahem, ‘reflective’ of summer months.

Surviving winter with seasonal affective disorder

Overall, it got me thinking of how I could be more creative in filling my winter nights with brightness, and whether the colder, darker months are as big of an issue for everyone.

Perhaps a SAD lamp would work wonders for me. Although sitting in front of a lamp for 15 minutes definitely isn’t the same as a long walk in a park, a SAD lamp simulates the full spectrum of light that comes from the sun, essentially acting as exposure to it.

Maybe taking turns having dinner at different family and friends’ houses could help with electricity bills. Being home half of the time means half as many light bulbs on (plus, it’s a great excuse to socialise).

Or perhaps I shouldn’t fight it but relish the build-up to the festivities that this time of year brings.

How do you feel now that the clocks have gone back? Are you looking for ways to simulate the summer sunshine or are you keen to embrace winter?

Should the clocks be set to BST all year round?

Yes, I'd prefer it got darker later in the day (64%, 987 Votes)

No, I like the lighter mornings when the clocks go back (20%, 307 Votes)

It makes no difference to me either way (13%, 205 Votes)

Not sure (3%, 44 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,543

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Erin’s Conversation has been published on the day when I can have an extra hour in bed (with my laptop, as it happens) but the main issue is that the days are shorter over the winter months.

I have a friend who has suffered severely from SAD since before most people had heard of the condition. She dreads the winter months and has light boxes round the house. I would normally take a bottle of wine when invited round for dinner but in the days when high power high colour temperature CFLs were uncommon, I decided that this might be a better gift.

I suspect that most of us suffer from SAD to some extent, though it is difficult to tell because of seasonal changes in the weather. Many of us welcome going out when the snow arrives. A snow covered world is undoubtedly attractive, but I suspect that part of appeal of snow is that when it arrives we can go out into a wonderfully bright world.

Perhaps it would be good to equip our homes with lighting that gradually changes from daylight (high colour temperature) to the more popular warm white (lower colour temperature) during the evenings.

Light with a higher blue content has been shown to enhance wakefulness. I like this time if the year because it is the beginning of the run up to Spring and bright green leaves on the trees.

But interestingly Blue light also has been found to induce sleep.

Perhaps we should not tinker with things like this Ian. Hibernation could be one answer. I wonder why some animals do it and not others. Is it just down to scarcity of food?

No – mainly evolution through adaptation to extreme and prolonged cold. Hibernation is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in endotherms and one theory is that animals used to warmer climes became habituated to their environment when the seasons became colder. Hence Polar bears are simply Grizzly bears that have adapted, as the Arctic fox. The evolutionary changes seem to have occurred in shorter periods of time, so may be partly epigenetic .

Hibernation is also a way of conserving energy during long period when insufficient food is available for animals to remain active. Wakening early, for example due to a warm spell, can prove fatal.

I was wondering why only some animals do so and why, for example, humans cannot.

There is some useful information in this review: physrev.physiology.org/content/83/4/1153.full

That excellent article seems to suggest that the genes required to specify the hibernating phenotype are common among the genomes of all mammals, so given the right conditions we could also ‘learn’ to hibernate. In answer to Malcolm’s question, however, I suspect geneticists might argue that man effectively ‘evolves his environment’, rendering the need to hibernate in the extreme cold redundant. In essence, humans have never needed to become hibernators, because they’ve always been able to retreat from the extreme cold by creating warmth and shelter.

But thanks for the link, Wavechange; fascinating article. You’re not one of the authors, by any chance?

Thanks Ian. I picked this article because it was a review and had been cited many times by other authors. I have worked mainly in microbial biochemistry and microbiology. It’s amazing how much we have in common with microorganisms and the ways in which they respond to different environmental conditions is fascinating, albeit somewhat off-topic.

I think that we shouldn’t turn the clocks back as we end up with extra light when most of us are in bed and dark when we are awake. Research has proved that it would also be better for the country and individuals by reducing fuel consumption.

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So far as I am aware, Duncan, there is nothing to stop schools in Scotland from adjusting their starting times to enable children to go to school in the daylight. The consequence would be, of course, that they would be going home in the dark on more days each Winter. It is not an issue of morning or evening darkness, which the authorities can fiddle about with, but the shortness of the days which is an inescapable condition of the northern latitudes. I thought the protest in Scotland was over a proposal put up by English newspapers for an extra hour of daylight saving in addition to the existing one hour adjustment. I don’t recall the government ever supporting it.

Since most schools seem to suffer in January and February from broken heating systems, burst pipes, teachers unable to get through the snow, and children having to be out in the dark, it would seem like a good idea to shuffle the holiday breaks and have the longest one during the Winter. That would also save the education authorities a lot of money on fuel bills.

Though I’m very much in favour of saving fuel, depriving children of long summer holidays seems a bit harsh, John. Summer holidays are among my earliest memories. Faulty heating systems and burst pipes are largely avoidable with good equipment, proper design and maintenance. Perhaps teachers should live within walking distance of their school.

Yes, Wavechange, you are right. My utilitarian tendencies ignore the popular mood.

Phil says:
2 November 2016

” depriving children of long summer holidays seems a bit harsh, ”

Most of them seem to spend all day indoors on their computers, phones and games consoles so it wouldn’t make much difference.

The sun wakes me up, so this morning I have put the kettle on earlier than over the past few weeks. We are enjoying a perfect Autumn morning with a little mist, shafts of sunlight from the lower angle of the sun, gorgeous colours in the shrubs and trees that have so far lost few of their leaves, and a warm dry atmosphere. It looks like being one of the best Autumns for very many years.

The answer to your Winter electricity bills, Erin, is to replace your old lamps with LED’s which consume a fraction of the current.

A number of friends have switched their main holiday from the Summer to the Winter in order to get more sunshine when it’s a bit drab and dreary at home. One lucky person we know has an apartment on the Gulf Coast of Florida and spends two months there starting when the clocks go back and three months there ending when the clocks go forward, so she has Christmas and New Year at home. Apparently thousands of Americans and Canadians over-Winter in Florida; they are nick-named “the snowbirds” and even have their cars brought south on transporters. Our friend keeps a car there all the time. When she is back home around Christmas her deep tan does rather stand out among the more pallid population.

An American friend told me the easy way to remember what has to be done with the clocks is to remember: Spring Forward – Fall Back.

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When we were out yesterday, I also noticed the trees and bushes seemed more colourful than usual, and a holly bush covered in berries which could be the sign for a harder winter.

I also had my morning cuppa earlier than usual.

Thank you, Duncan. I wanted to avoid parodying Keats’s Ode to Autumn.

The incidence of SAD is higher in higher latitudes – where it’s relevant to winter, that is. However, there’s a summer equivalent, which produces anxiety and depression so it seems that unless you live on the equator you stand a chance of being affected by darker or lighter days and nights.

But Erin’s ‘hibernation mode’ isn’t uncommon. Duncan’s point about Scotland and children going to school is very important and no studies have been conclusive in demonstrating advantages of maintaining BST year round, although it was tried once – the British Standard Time experiment, with Britain remaining on GMT+1 throughout the year. This took place between 27 October 1968 and 31 October 1971, when there was a reversion to the previous arrangement.

In 2010 Conservative backbench MP Rebecca Harris proposed a bill that would allow the devolved powers to set their own time zones but this was eventually talked out, partly due to Jacob Rees-Mogg introducing an amendment that would allow Surrey to have its own time zone, 15 minutes behind London.

But the darker evenings do deter activity as such, partly because gardening or jogging in the dark is tricky. But apart from the drive, going to the gym shouldn’t be affected – providing the gym has discovered electric lighting. I suspect the real issue is more personal: some people enjoy the darker evenings and hate getting up in the dark. Others enjoy lighter evenings and simply hate getting up.

Thanks, Ian, for reminding me about the BST experiment all those years ago. I remember the debate around it at the time and how evenly balanced it was. So we can blame Harold Wilson for starting it and Edward Heath for stopping it. Heath, of course, had a better idea – a three-day week.

I think the clocks being put back for lighter mornings had more to do with farmers than anything else, so they could get the milk ready for collection.

It is a matter of personal choice whether you prefer an extra hour of daylight in the morning or evening.

Personally, I would prefer the clocks did not fall back an hour as I am a lot more productive in daylight and it can take me a while to get going in the mornings. My productive day does finish earlier in the winter months.

My radio-controlled clock has for the first time ignored the change from BST to GMT. I have placed it on a south-facing windowsill and hope it wakes up soon.

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I invested in a SAD light some time ago and found that it irritated my skin and it felt as if it was “frying” me gently even from a distance. It was unkind to the eyes too. Many years ago, the establishment I worked for had a winter and a summer timetable so that activities requiring the out-doors and daylight took place when there was some natural light available and everything else shifted to compensate. I also know all too well, that those whose body clocks are set to expect lunch at one o clock get quite disturbed when lunch time comes and goes without any lunch. It takes a week or two to reset the patterns. Personally I dislike the clock changes and messing around with the time, particularly in the spring. It would seem possible to make adjustments in routine that make the most of the daylight, where this made sense. We know when it is going to be light and how much light we are going to get, where ever we live. Still, to be fair, altering the clock shifts routines naturally, but I still don’t like it!

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The UK is on GMT for 5 months per year (last Sunday in October to last Sunday in March), and on BST for 7 months per year. Light afternoons are much more beneficial than light mornings; therefore I would prefer GMT to be reduced to 2 months per year (third Sunday in November to third Sunday in January) and BST to be increased to 10 months per year.

The only downside would be a varying time difference between the UK and other European countries, which can be disruptive to some industries, for example the financial markets. But this disruption already happens between Europe and the US, as the US has daylight savings time between the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November.

There is a debate every year on or around the last Sunday in October about GMT/BST, but nothing ever changes, so I don’t hold out much hope.

NFH: you say Light afternoons are much more beneficial than light mornings there’s no actual evidence regarding that. It seems to be a personal thing, rather than anything objective .

Yes, it’s a personal thing. But ask most people, and you’ll find that they prefer it to be light in the afternoon when they’re out and about rather than early in the morning when they’re at home or in bed.

Because I tend to wake up when the sun rises I sometimes get tired in the afternoons and find the day has gone. I spend a lot of time outdoors even in the Winter which both boosts my vitamin D level while at the same time contributes to the occasional tiredness. Sitting at a computer in the daytime is probably the worst thing we can do so I shall be in the garden for a couple of hours now.

In fact most folk I know are evenly split. Some like dark mornings, other like dark afternoons.

Erin, you can’t standardise daylight savings conventions, because many countries don’t even have daylight savings and countries with daylight savings in the southern hemisphere implement it in reverse to the northern hemisphere. See

And the inconvenience isn’t just a minor one affecting those with friends and relatives each side of the Atlantic. It’s quite confusing in the financial markets where London and New York are temporarily only 4 hours apart instead of the usual 5. Nevertheless people get around it, just as they did before the rest of Europe fell into line with the UK in the late 1990s on the end date for daylight savings time.

We nearly got caught out one year when going on holiday on the day the clocks went back and the travel operator had not allowed for it in their flight instructions. Luckily we were at the airport in good time and by chance noticed the flight announcement screen was showing our departure long before we were expecting it but we had to make quite a dash for the boarding gate and just caught the tail end of the queue [not the last, however, as other passengers were also caught out]. Some red faces at the Thomas Cook desk.

Travel Tip: if you’re flying or sailing when the clocks change, double check the documents and query the instructions to make sure they have allowed for the time difference. Don’t necessarily rely on the operator’s word – check the airline or airport website or call the cruise line for confirmation.

John, a friend of mine had a similar experience to you this week. He’d been staying in the south of Cyprus and crossed the Green Line into the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island to catch a flight to Turkey. Although the clocks in Cyprus had gone back on the same date as the rest of Europe (maintaining 2 hours ahead of the UK), unknown to him, the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus is following Turkey’s decision this year to remain on its summer time zone. Therefore for the first time the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus is now on a different time zone from the government-controlled south of Cyprus – but only during winter.

A long time ago, we went on a day trip to France on the ferry. The time difference just didn’t occur to us. As we arrived at the port an hour before departure, we watched our ferry sail away. Luckily it wasn’t the last one of the day, but it was about 2am before we got back home and some very worried partners waiting for us.

Perhaps the answer is the two hour lunch-break where people are encouraged to go outdoors or to do an activity before returning to a longer afternoon finishing at perhaps 6 or 7p.m.. Going socialising then would be easier, stress on the transport network would be eased.

Or perhaps a Heath model where the working week is a mandatory 4 longer days. With another free day for fresh air and whatever sunshine is available peoples health [and Vitamin D levels} could soar. And a 20% drop in transport and road infrastructure pressure!

Despite becoming more in favour of Brexit I’d be in favour of using the same time as the near-Europe. We have short days; unless we invent a new lighting system (it was once seriously proposed to replace individual street lights with reflective balloons and ground-based floodlights) we can live with what we’ve got, can’t we? Are there really overwhelming arguments for either option? We could always make an individual choice and either put our clocks back or not; as long as we remember what time the train goes. Perhaps we should have a Cloxbaxit referendum.

Selis says:
30 October 2016

Looking at a map showing time zones, it is quite clear that France and Spain are on the wrong time zone. They should not be on the same time zone as countries far to the East. They should be an hour ahead of those and on the same time zone as UK, Ireland and Portugal.

People who normally suffer from low serotonin levels will often be more affected by the lack of light during the winter months and would benefit from some form of professional medical assistance. There are alternate remedies for people less affected, but as with feeling more cold, it is thought women here again are the losers. However, for those only mildly affected…………

If you suffer from Autumnal blues
Just open your eyes at the beautiful hues
The oranges and reds on golden trees
And shrubs displaying berries and dew covered leaves.

When shorter days become murky and dark
Wrap up warm and take a brisk walk in the park
Where grass is still green and ducks paddle around
And even the odd fox or deer may be found

So when everything starts to feel bleak and depressing
It’s time to reflect and start counting your blessings
And as SAD days get shorter and the winter less hearty
Invite all your friends in and……………. LETS HAVE A PARTY!

To match John’s earlier poetic posting when we awoke this morning and went for a five mile walk across the mountain the clinging mist obscured what colour there might have been, and the day was largely in shades of grey. The mud was a fine slurry colour, and the cow droppings similarly so. The neatly cropped hedgerows provided obstacles alenty on which to trip and thus investigate the slushy murk more closely, while the odd tractor passing by ensured we were not deprived of a fine mud-coloured spray. Oh, to be in England, now that Halloween draws near…

A bit like my driveway which is hosting 4 tons of cow manure.

My goodness. I will never complain about bird droppings on the car in future.

Is this your anti-Trick-or-Treat defences, Malcolm?

I hope it is pure cow manure with no bulls*** mixed in with it, or bullocks’ even. Four tons will take some shifting. I trust you have given Mrs R some newspapers to put down in the hall in case it’s a bit runny.

Everything will be coming up roses next year in Malcolm’s neck of the woods no doubt! Could be he’s planning on hosting Gardeners World next year, or maybe a Gold at Chelsea? Monty Don watch out!

It’s pedigree manure, from Charolais, John, so I’m expecting great things. We used to get spent mushroom compost for our heavy clay, and got good crops of mushrooms springing up. I’m not so hopeful about a herd of cattle appearing though.

I also make compost (from lawn mowings, hedge clippings, mixed with some straw), but despite what looks to be a big heap, it soon seems to get used up. Buying commercial compost is ludicrously expensive if your garden is of any size. This is my first trial of a local beef farmer’s (csattles) byproduct. I won’t put it on my rhubarb though – as they say, I prefer custard.

Perhaps Which? could look at sources of garden nutrition (I don’t take Which? Garden so maybe they have). Many councils compost the green waste you give them, in your wheelie bins but I don’t know if any, or many, then sell it back to you. Mine doesn’t.

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Maybe this discussion belongs in the Convo about the merits of peat-free composts or maybe the one about nuisance neighbours. 🙂

It has been “laid down” since the spring, duncan, the farmer assures me. I grow marrows inadvertently from courgettes (they get forgotten) and they get used by the birds, and no doubt some mammals, in the winter just like my surplus apples (not many this year though). I have used garden compost mainly on where I grow veg, and flowers for cutting (dahlias and chrysanths) but have neglected the general borders. Hopefully this might cheer them up.

Shortly after the clocks go back is a good time to clear your borders and spread some muck for the worms to get to grips with. There is a tenuous link.

We had the first fog this morning. As morning tends to be the time it hangs around, going to work in the light helps combat it a little. So maybe that is one reason to retain morning daylight as long as possible by putting the clocks back?

As I’m in Australia (sorry!), I’ve just been totally confused about the time difference. When I arrived there was a 10 hour time difference. Then the clocks changed in OZ for their summertime, making it a 9 hour difference, and now the clocks have changed in the UK making it an 11 hour difference. My brain is confused. ⏰ 😕

I’m just glad I have a tool like this to find the right time to have an international meeting: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/meetingtime.html?iso=20161031&p1=240&p2=136

I hope it’s not too dark and cold by the time I get back >_<

I confess to being confused too. I started to update clocks when I got home yesterday evening and realised that I was putting them forward rather than back.

The weather has been dry and mild recently and hopefully it will be dry on bonfire night.

I visited a Tesco supermarket yesterday and informed customer services that the car park was in darkness. I was told that this was because of the clocks going back and the lights were controlled from somewhere in Scotland. Why did I not think of that?

So was it not dark in Scotland at that time? The car park lights at our nearest Tesco will come on in the middle of the afternoon if a passing cloud occludes the sun.

As the days become shorter many of us are driving in the dark. Apart from driving in built-up areas, I have preferred driving in the dark when the roads are quieter, most people are more cautious and oncoming lights provide a warning that there is an approaching vehicle at bends.

I’m getting fed-up of the increasing number of cars with high intensity headlights which blind oncoming drivers when they go over a speed bump, forget their lights are on full-beam or even flash you for being courteous. 🙁 Bring back common sense and standard headlights.

Given that speed humps can only be installed on roads with street lighting and 20 mph maximum speed limits, drivers should be not be using the main beam at all.

It’s dipped beam that is the problem. The front of the car is raised and an automatic level adjuster does not respond fast enough to prevent dazzling oncoming drivers and cyclists. I am not looking forward to driving through our village in the dark because there are speed humps that do a good job at discouraging inappropriate speeds. Some drivers don’t even bother to straddle the smaller humps. I have little doubt that being dazzled, even briefly, compromises the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. In the 70s, some cars were fitted with ‘dim dip’ headlights for driving where there was street lighting, making cars conspicuous without any risk of dazzle.

Its time we got rid of speed bumps – they damage vehicles, adjacent property, increase noise and pollution, cost lots of money to install and repair, damage tyres, cause congestion – what’s to like? Oh, and many just put their foot down between bumps anyway.

There are no 20 mph limits where speed bumps are used in our area. I’m not aware of that requirement John. If you are travelling at sensible speed the momentary flash from dipped lights on a speed bump should be quite tolerable to people with normal eyesight. Not much different to meeting a vehicle who is slightly late in dipping from main beam, or who flashes you. However I suspect a number of drivers have the beginnings of cararacts that they may not be aware of. These diffuse the light that reaches the eye to give a veil over the scene, making contrast less and reducing visibility. From time to time you see drivers at night slowing markedly whenever a car approaches on a dark road. There should be compulsory annual eye tests for all drivers so this sort of condition, as well as their general eyesight, can be assessed and corrected if possible.

I agree that annual tests would be useful, Malcolm, though maybe we should start with those who are most at risk. I’m no expert but those with early signs of cataract or sub-standard peripheral vision obviously need to be checked regularly.

I am familiar with drivers slowing because of approaching cars but sometimes this is just lack of confidence about driving in the dark, in the same way that novice drivers do the same in daylight.

I had in mind the more elderly for cataract tests etc. There will no doubt be statistics to show where best to start. A friend has been told of the beginnings of cataracts and finds difficulty driving at night. Problem is it seems the NHS only deal with them when they are quite advanced, so maybe many would be put off eye checks in case they gave an unwelcome result. She perseveres when she could afford to have them attended to privately.

At one time, cataract surgery was usually delayed until the problem was quite advanced unless both eyes were affected at the same time. That is not considered unnecessary and my parents were both treated promptly. I’m not affected yet and don’t even need to wear reading glasses.

It is a requirement to tell the DVLA about eyesight problems but only if both eyes are affected.

It seems every time we get a new councillor, they have to do their bit of road calming in the interests of safety.

Many speed bumps are so high (confirmed by all the scrapes across them), the only way past them is to drive in the middle of the road or damage our cars. This is impossible on busier roads, so we are prevented from using them.

So I concur, it is time this blight on our roads was removed.

The speed bumps in our village don’t have any scrapes and having spoken to locals most are glad to have them since they have had an on speed. There is a primary school nearby. Some drivers manage to straddle the smaller speed bumps but there are a couple of humps that cross the road and that’s the main cause of drivers being dazzled by oncoming cars with bright headlights.

Many bumps show crumbling edges which have a damaging effect on tyre walls, particularly on small cars that cannot straddle them. Many speed bumps can be straddled, are not big bumps, and do not deter anyone who wants to speed. Anyway, those that are determined just put their foot down between bumps.

Our local village spent thousands on a “gateway” at each end of the through road, which only allows one line of traffic. All that happens is cars on one side are delayed but as the street is half a mile long they travel at whatever speed they like between gateways. What is the point?

Those who are determined to speed will do so. I find speed sensing warning displays the best way, in case you inadvertently creep over the limit. My car has a speed limit switch on the steering wheel that you can activate to set a maximum speed. I thought it was a gimmick but now use it regularly in the many different speed limits that seem to have afflicted our county’s roads.

Perhaps 20 mph speed limits are not a requirement, Malcolm, but a policy of our county council, as I have never seen any speed humps that were not part of an area-wide traffic calming scheme which includes a 20 mph speed limit. Some of the 20 mph zones are quite extensive and and there are no repeater signs after entering them but newer zones and extensions of older zones have used road layout and design rather than humps to moderate speed. A serpentine road layout is quite effective at keeping speed well below 30 mph although some drivers try to cut across the bends. I would say that speed compliance is generally about 60-70% but worse at night when there is far less traffic. As you say, if both approaching vehicles are travelling at sensible speeds towards a speed hump then momentary dazzle should not be a problem.

When walking across junctions in daylight I have noticed how difficult it is to pick out flashing direction indicators on cars with an array or a ribbon of very bright LED day-running lights. I guess it would be no easier at night. From a road safety perspective, and from the point of view of people with limited vision, as well as the effect on other drivers, the lack of suitable and consistent standards for forward lighting is a concern. Manufacturers seem to have been allowed to make the lamp clusters features of vehicle design and aesthetics [questionable] rather than essential safety, vision and warning equipment.

My local speed humps and ‘pillows’ are in a 30 mph zone. Here is some information about traffic calming: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/329454/ltn-1-07_Traffic-calming.pdf

I have been disappointed about the lack of uniformity and poor design of obligatory car lighting for years. For indicators and brake lights to be conspicuous they should be some distance away from other lights. I don’t know what standards apply – maybe ones for decorative lighting. I find it unpleasant to be behind a stationary car at a junction with bright LED brake lights or indicators flashing. In another Convo, someone claimed that some cars turn on the brake lights whenever the handbrake or electric parking brake is applied. If so, the manufacturer should equip themselves with a copy of the Highway Code.

Of course the nuisance caused by poorly designed vehicle lighting becomes worse at rush hour on dark evenings.

Alfa – From memory I think that there are already two or three vaults in Room 101 filled with speed humps.

As someone who likes to travel on local buses, I dislike the bumps that go right across the road as the buses tend to have hard suspensions and tyres inflated to the max. Bus drivers are also not so careful with the vehicles as we are with our cars and seem to enjoy throwing their passengers about.

When my sister and I were small we used to occasionally travel on a single deck bus out into the country with mum and dad. The seat we rushed for, if we could, was right at the back, well behind the back wheels, because it gave such an exaggerated bumpy ride. I think we would have liked speed bumps. a bl**dy nuisance now.

I don’t understand the problem with speed bumps and cars. Do you have low profile tyres or a Reliant Robin?

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I don’t like potholes either. Neither do Reliant Robins or Morgan 3 wheelers. I’ve said above what I think are the deficiencies with speed bumps. I have seen little evidence that they have a real effect otherwise they would be on all residential roads and those near schools. Shared spaces – a Dutch concept I think – was designed so that surfaces in housing areas accommodated both people and vehicles and when it was introduced appeared to show safety benefits. I haven’t followed it since then.

Duncan, I could take umbrage at being called part of the ‘go faster stripe brigade’ !!!

The tyres are factory fitted and one is car is lower profile, but it is the undertrays that protect the engine that get damaged. The undertray on a previous car (not low profile) had to be removed when it got too damaged.

At least Duncan did not mention furry dice and valve caps that light up when travelling at speed.

I’ve just examined my engine under-tray and it is not scored and there is no sign of damage caused by humps and bumps. I did scrape a previous car a couple of times, once by driving in a field and another time by driving over a kerb when helpful person had parked in a silly place, blocking in my car.

I would certainly join a campaign to get potholes fixed having required a catalytic converter shortly after driving over a pothole that was not obvious because it was full of water.

Maybe it would be good to get back to the topic.

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I’ve just driven down a fairly typical local road that had speed humps in a 30 mph area. Most cars were doing over 30, mainly straddling the humps. Perhaps they way our County deals with humps is different from elsewhere but their installation seems quite arbitrary – these were on an ordinary main village road, but the nearby school road had no humps. Further along in the next village are width restrictions allowing only one line of cars through. A nightmare at peak times with drivers trying to get to the gap before oncoming traffic – a danger to both cars and pedestrians. A waste of money. I’d far rather the money had been spent usefully on fixing potholes.

Speed bumps are indiscriminate, so hit emergency ambulances the same as speeding cars, which is simply dangerous – and daft.

I gather that the small humps that some large cars and wider vehicles can straddle are called ‘speed cushions’. There are some on a road we use frequently and approaching drivers seem to be more concerned to weave around on the road in order to straddle them perfectly rather to control their speed to keep within the limit. Presumably it’s only a matter of time before induction loops in speed-limited roads will be able to command automatic cars’ computers to select a lower gear. I think most ‘grounding’ of cars is likely to be on the older full-width humps on cambered roads where later resurfacing and repairs have distorted the profile of the hump but presumably it does not happen if cars approach at or below the design speed. If low-profile tyres are fitted on larger diameter wheels then there should be little difference in axle height and clearance should not be affected. If they are fitted on the original wheels then there is a risk of grounding.

Phil says:
2 November 2016

Old fashioned technology. GPS will detect an overspeed and warn the driver. If the warning is ignored the relevant authority will be informed. This system is already in operation on the railways.

If drivers showed proper care and respect and didn’t speed there’d be no need for traffic calming in the first place.

I appreciate that point, Phil, but isn’t GPS control over speed humps a sledgehammer to crack a nut? And would warning the driver change the gear? Train drivers are employed to drive at set speeds over sections of line and signals can be set along the route to check or hold a train that has exceeded the permitted speed [and if it passes a signal at danger the train will be arrested]. Car drivers can make it up as they go along and, as you say, that’s why we have to have physical traffic calming. The flaw in my previous comment was that we don’t need either satellite intervention or old-fashioned induction loops to control speed on the approach to speed humps – the humps do that quite effectively! It’s on the rest of the public highway in between the humps where external speed override is needed. If we can achieve that we can get rid of the humps altogether.

Phil says:
3 November 2016

Using GPS tracking would make traffic calming unnecessary.

Raised crossing points for disabled people, extended junction corners, advisory crossing points, central refuges, road narrowings to channel traffic and prevent overtaking, and waiting restrictions are all part of the traffic calming menu and would still have their uses because speed is not the only problem.