/ Health

Time to change to double summertime?

Sun going down behind trees

‘Summertime and the living is easy’… well, it might be if we get longer summer nights, but what about dark winter mornings? Should safety be cast aside in favour of boosting tourism or should we put it to the vote?

Longer summer evenings could be on the way if predictions are right about the government’s new tourism strategy. It’s expected to include a proposal to move to ‘double summertime’ – or British Summer Time +1.

That would mean lighter evenings in spring and summer which, say supporters, will bring in millions of pounds to the tourism industry and reduce carbon emissions as we all turn our lights on later.

Downside of dark mornings

So what’s not to like? Well, it’s going to be a pretty rough ride in Scotland, with the most northern parts not seeing daylight until past 10am in the depths of winter. Many argue that these dark mornings are dangerous and cause more accidents.

When the clocks changed last October we asked the question, ‘Do you agree with turning the clocks back?’ and were inundated with responses, including some from a Scottish perspective.

‘Having been brought up in Scotland I was used to walking to and from school in the dark with only street lights to help me,’ explained Linda. ‘I survived, but the roads were not nearly as busy as they are nowadays.’

Sally questioned why 8-9am is the chosen time for beginning school and work. ‘Why don’t we adjust our working start times to 6-7am and then we have access to daylight at the end of a normal working day whatever the season. Get up earlier, work then play! If we are going to try and fight nature let’s do it in a creative way.’

What suits the majority?

Clearly, this is a highly personal issue, as Robert and Dave’s responses showed. Robert explained that he preferred lighter evenings, but Dave disagreed. ‘Personally *my* best use of daylight hours is to have lighter mornings, not evenings, but that is just what suits me and lighter evenings are what suit you.’

Which is exactly the crux of the issue – we all have different lifestyles and preferences, so working out what suits the majority isn’t going to be easy. Many of you felt that there should be a referendum before anything is firmly decided – something that the Prime Minister has hinted at already – so this could be the next step.

Until then, check out this handy map to see how the proposed changes will affect you and your area – and vote in our poll to let us know where you stand on double summertime.

Should clocks be changed to double summertime?

Yes - lighter evenings would be good (62%, 649 Votes)

No - leave it as it is (38%, 394 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,043

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I would like it to change. My mother, who was a child during World War 2 never forgot that at my latitude it would be light at midnight ion June 21st. Also it’s bad in winter at present as it’s dark when you leave for work and also dark, when you return home. I’ve noticed that on the first workday after the clocks go back that many peoples’ driving is poor i the dark.

In my view instead of changing to double summer time which makes it light until very late mid-summer the sensible option would be to delay putting the clocks back in the autumn by 3 or 4 weeks and putting them forward in the spring a month earlier.

Sybilmari says:
25 February 2011

I don’t mind when the clocks are set to. Maybe it needs a public vote. I wish they would stay the same all year though. It’s not healthy to keep messing about with the body clock.

David Leiws says:
25 February 2011

I agree with Joan – particularly in the spring when we leave it until the end of March to put the clocks forward – it could be at least a month earlier. But this would put us out of line with Europe. The period of GMT is much longer after Christmas than before.

Leave the clocks on GMT and organise your lifestyles around daylight hours this would also help to ease transport congestion.Just start work earlier if a lot of your buisness is with Europe and have more flexitime to deal with the british side of your buisness .Adjust school times according to the seasons if your worried about safety have a shorter day in winter and a longer day during summer.There are plenty of ways of dealing with problems without needing to constantly fiddle with the clocks.

I remember the last time this was tried. Walking to school in the dark, and then there were more accidents with young children as I recall. Maybe if you live down south you think it would be worth it, but for Northerners its a distinct No.

John Terry says:
25 February 2011

I am a firm believer that double summer time shopuld be introduced. I am old enough to remember the war years when we had double summer time to help the farmers etc;
Although this is not nessasary today as far as farminf benefits go, it still makes sense to have the daylight when the majority of people can bebefit from it. The safety argument about darker mornings in the winter, doesn’t really wash, as most people will still be in their beds, and if it,s not dark in the mornings, then you have it at the other end of the day. The other argument in favour of summer time being left for the whole year, is the massive savings which will be made foem the physical man hours saved in not having to alter the thousands of clocks twice a year.

A.Shore says:
25 February 2011

I have no objection to them changing it, providing that it is not changed back again afterwards. Originally people had just a watch and a clock, perhaps an alarm clock, but nowadays people generally have many timepieces of differing sorts.It is now an un-necessary chore to move them all forward and back.

John L says:
25 February 2011

Unfortunately most politicians have very short memories and probably most of those now in Parliament were not born or too young to know what it was like when we tried this back in 1969 – 1972 or 74. It was rejected then and it should be rejected now. This talk about getting more tourists over is absolute rubbish, at the way the world is going now nobody will want to venture very far and if they do come here can they afford it! I remember during December 69 being in Oxfordshire on a military course which started at 0800 and finished at 1700 hrs. The only time we saw daylight was at lunch time – we started in the dark and finished in the dark. Do people really want to be in these conditions, I certainly don’t. In overcast days in the winter the lights will on in most homes and offices/workplaces during the daylight hours in any case so where is any saving? Where I live the schools finish at about 15.00hrs so there would probably more energy used in the mornings than now to light classrooms etc than if the times were left as they are.

I do not think the ‘Yes’ campaigners have properly thought things through and it seems to me another case of change for change’s sake.

J.Clark says:
25 February 2011

I live fairly far south and already have an issue with it being dark in the morning going to work (school), the last thing I want is complete darkness, with many of the roads I use being unlit. Many schools these days start well before 9am, some soon after 8, whereas it is still light at the end of the school day.

Not everyone is properly awake in the morning and if you suffer from SAD it doesn’t set you up very well for the day.

I certainly don’t think we should be putting tourist revenue before the safety and health of the people who live here.

I agree 100% with Chris of Gloucester in that come what may, the number of hours of daylight are the same regardless of what the clock shows. But our lives are organised around what the clock says.
Like Chris, I’d prefer double summer time all year round.
Lighter evenings would enable everyone to make better use of their time either for business or pleasure, we would be in line with Europe our biggest trading partner.
However the further north you go in the UK the later morning daylight would arrive, so why not simply adjust local school and farming start and finish times to an hour later than at present, thus preserving at the same state of light as enjoyed now, whilst allowing those who wish to benefit from the lighter evenings?

dennis tom says:
25 February 2011

We`ve tried it before. Do these numpties ever learn from history?

John Westcott says:
25 February 2011

Great I work outside all year (forestry work). I work from 8am to 5pm now you think I should work from 9am to 6pm. We have families as well and would like to see them in the evenings. Its alright for those that work in an office they can turn the lights on but I have yet to find a tree with a light switch so we have to have daylight to work.

Leighton Pickering says:
25 February 2011

When I was younger & in school,When we were sent to bed at 9pm,It was still light outside with other children playing outside,We could not get to sleep because of it, & as a result we were very tired the next day falling asleep doing our school work !
Keeping BST all the year through it a recipie for desaster with many children losing vital concetration in thier school work further loss of concetration doing thier Summer Exams.

I live on the Scottish border and don’t see my home in daylight in winter from Monday to Friday. I’d like lighter evenings rather than mornings. I don’t really want double summertime but would like Summer time all year around or, if not, for the clocks to go forward in early February not March

Ian Brown says:
25 February 2011

Because the Greenwich Meridian runs through the UK, our correct time zone is GMT which is what we are on now. It would surely be unnatural to change that.

There is much talk about children walking to school and the safety aspects.. My experience is that these days very few children walk to school anyway – evidence the difference in traffic flow on school holidays which shortens my travelling time to work by 33%. I would like to hope that there would be less traffic on the road because the school-run mums perhaps would be a little less inclined to clutter the streets with their converted vans and Chelsea Tractors when it is dark in the mornings. Yes change the hours, I agree with two other contributors keep it he same all the time and make school opening times 10 am until 4pm to keep roads free for commutors.

A very sensible argument for making the change.

Why aren’t there many people mentioning that one advantage of DST will be that Britain will be at the same time as most European countries on the continent. To be in sync with the continent can help in many ways (business, collaborative projects). Didn’t it happen to you ever that you needed to phone someone in Germany, France or Spain for business in the late afternoon and then the person you wanted to speak to had left office already because they are an hour ahead?!

For energy saving and accidents, I think it will be worthwhile to look at evidence based facts. Interesting points are made in
[1] Brendan Cronin; Elizabeth Garnsey (2007-10-19) (PDF). Daylight saving in GB; is there evidence in favour of clock time on GMT?. Dept. of Engineering, University of Cambridge. http://www.eng.cam.ac.uk/news/stories/2007/BSTvGMT/garnsey_gmt_policy_191007.pdf. and
[2] Brendan Cronin; Elizabeth Garnsey (2009-10-20) (PDF). Daylight saving in GB; is there evidence in favour of clock time on GMT? (October 2009 revision). Dept. of Engineering, University of Cambridge. http://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/people/ewg/gmt_cronin_garnsey_rev_oct09.pdf. and comprehensive details on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time#cite_note-46 . It seems that with DST Britain can save a small amout of energy. Traffic accidents might be less in total (more in the morning but less in the evening).

James says:
25 February 2011

We live in surrey and work outside so do not want any changes
anybody who works outside will be the same, imagine a frosty morning how long will it take for the tempreture to rise above freezing (if at all) if it’s not light until after 9 am

Graham says:
26 February 2011

I find the whole concept of messing around with the clocks rather crazy, as do some friends of mine in Asia (where they don’t change the clocks at all). These days we have so many clocks in our houses, cars and gadgets that it is almost impossible to ensure they are all changed, what a waste of human time and effort to do this twice per year. As to the actual timing, it would be better if we were aligned with the rest of Europe (who unfortunately also mess around with the clocks twice a year). On the safety point, it does seem that changing to double summertime could save some lives but there is evidence from past experiments that the effect is only temporary.

I can never understand why the clocks go back about 7 weeks before the shortest day (21 December) but do not go forward again until about 14 weeks after the shortest day. Surely if we have to have summer & winter time it would make sense to put the clocks forward again at the end of February.
Another argument I have heard about using BST in winter is from farmers who say they already have to get up very early when it is dark, well I didn’t know that animals could tell the time. They just work by light & dark rather than the clock.
Finally studies have shown that there is a net reduction in road accidents, even in Scotland, by putting the clocks forward by 1 hour in winter.

Laura blank says:
26 February 2011

It is around 40 years ago when this was tried before, afterwards it was shown that the roads were more unsafe, as drivers were not alert, children were going to school in the dark.. Not always accompanied by adults.

There may have been other reasons which I have forgoten but after the trial they continued with the double summer time