/ 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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Alan T says:
26 February 2011

What is wanted is a stop to changing the time twice a year. Leave the summer time where it is and do not change the clocks in the autumn so we have summertime throughout the year. No more it getting dark soon after 4 pm in the winter, leaving the summer where it is which is where most people are perfectly happy with it. No more the palaver of twice yearly changing all the clocks, watches, etc. Additionally no longer the trauma suffered by many because of the difficulty of getting used to the change of time.
We like the summer time as it is. The changing of the clocks and it being dark before teatime in the winter is what we do not like!!

Colin Tyler says:
27 February 2011

I strongly disagree with Summertime+1. Children find it difficult enough to sleep during the summer. How will they cope with the sun still shining brightly at bed time. Will everybody have to buy blackout curtains? Also, many summer events end with fireworks. This will mean firework displays starting at 11.00 p.m.!!!!!! All in all people will tend to go to bed later and this does not bode well for safety issues when the mornings will be darker longer. Too much meddling I’m afraid!

Chris says:
27 February 2011

An angle that nobody seems to have picked up on yet is international business, right now most clocks around the world change at pretty much the same time, so for example we are always 5 hours ahead of east coast USA and 8 hours ahead of the west coast. Many UK businesses deal extensively with the US and an additional 1 hour shift will make this much harder and cut down the window for communication resulting in the need for many more people in the UK to work into the evening. We would all be better off if governments stopped meddling and got on with the things that really matter.

Chris, one of my pet hates is the fact that the US does not change to summer time on the same day as Europe. This means that there is a two-week period, twice a year, during which the US is on summer time and we here in the UK are on GMT. This causes endless confusion between us and our US colleagues and clients, with missed teleconferences. This is particularly a problem with repeating appointments – for example, where I work we have a weekly call with our US colleagues at 2pm, except it’s at 1pm for two weeks twice a year. When you think about how many businesses in the UK miss the opportunity to contact customers in the US, you can imagine how many millions are lost due to some silly rule about changing clocks back and forth.

Belated reply to Clint Kirk. I entirely agree – the countries of Europe have agreed to change their clocks on the same date, while adopting different time standards. Why can’t the USA and other countries agree to a standard date to change? The difficulties go far beyond intercontinental phone calls, conference calls, etc. Think of the effect on airlines, which need to change timetables for two weeks, then change back.

It would not be impossible to adopt a system whereby the whole world could adopt common dates to change clocks. Of course, the southern hemisphere would put clocks back while the northern put them forward, and vice versa. To make the system equitable, summer time and standard time would each need to be six months of the year. The dates to change clocks could, I suggest, be something like mid-April and mid-October.

It is a pity we cannot pursue something worthwhile like this – rather than the present proposal, put forward by certain sections promoting their own self-interest in sport and recreation, under the subterfuge of road safety, without considering the wider implications.

Alexander J Smith says:
27 February 2011

I met a Scottish man who was the first person injured during the last trial. He was walking to school very early in the morning in pitch dark, was hit and dragged by a lorry and had a leg amputated. His life was ruined through this and other I’ll health due to the accident. If we ask Scotland to refrain from the extra hour and have different time zones from the rest of the UK, we are risking a precipitant withdrawal from the union. All this to help the tourist trade?

The accidents figures for the 1970 trial showed a decrease in fatal and non-fatal accidents.
While the morning accident figures went up the evening figures came down even more.
This summary from the report on the parliament.uk website

“In summary, the retention of BST during the winter of 1969-70 led to a reduction of
about 230 in the number of fatalities, 1100 in the number killed or seriously injured, and
2350 in the number injured … BST was especially effective in reducing the number of
fatalities. The groups which benefited most from the change were those aged 5-15,
pedestrians and those living in Central England and Southern Scotland. “

Annette says:
28 February 2011

As a parent, the answer is a no-brainer. The longer evenings mean more outside play time even in the winter. After school in the winter there is no time for the children to play outside before dark, and this means instant tv and couch potato-land, when actually children need to be encouraged to go outside and be active, through play or bicycling and skating.

Diane says:
28 February 2011

Surely the fact that it was trialled before and didn’t work is enough to leave things well alone! As for the point of saving electricity can’t these people see that what they “gain” by not having lights on in the evening will mean they will need to have lights on in the morning – where’s the “gain”?

I think that after 40 years ( almost 2 generations) and with all the changes in work patterns its worth considering again.

Richard says:
28 February 2011

The whole idea of changing the clocks seems daft to me. We don’t get any extra daylight during the 24hours by doing that. If we want to get up earlier and start work earlier, either to gain more daylight hours when we get home or to match other countries’ working hours, why don’t we just get up earlier, and not pretend that mid day is actually 1pm!

Why do we not accept that the UK is quite far north within northern hemisphere and that is that. It is just a question of lazy people getting up earlier to appreciate the amount of light and pressure their employer for more flexible times.

This thing is like a hardy annual weed. It comes back almost every year and it has one purpose like so much of the UK’s economic policies of today, and that is to suit businessmen and possible tourists who can also depart their cushy silver lined corners at different times if they want to align their lifes with mainland Europe.

I strongly expect that few of you members have had to live and work further north than Manchester or even Watford, and as such have little idea how long it takes to get light in the winter. It is not pleasant when on a cloudy day Aberdeen for example does not see real light until after 9:20am, and for the Shetlands it is after 10am.

Some of us remember what was supposed to be the 5 year experiment starting in mid February 1968 which was terminated in 1971. Nothing in real terms has changed other than perhaps a few more tourists or business people going on more jolly’s in Europe. The reasons for the failure between 1968 to 1971 will be the same once again should we be so foolish to give this another try.

O yes, it may seem nice in Summer but you can achieve just as much light in one life by getting out of bed a bit sooner and this could have the advantage of less traffic on your way to work and whats more there will be more room on public transport.

Some of you may suggest that Scotland enters a different time zone and then we have to change our clocks on going over the boarder but this does not alter the simple fact that during February 1968 children had to put on reflective arm bands and even in the south of England newspaper boys were subject to preditory attacks in the increased darkness.

Just look up a few old newspapers at the British Newspaper Library in Colindale NW10 if you want to see what happened in 1968, and then ask have we still got the same parameters today because the answer is we have and technology has not changed that much. The only thing that has changed is the almost pathological need in having to do what our lazy business community want to do all, and to please those in Brussels.

David H says:
28 February 2011

My preference would be to stay with the current BST but for the full year. Under this scheme clocks would not change twice a year. I find it unnatural to change clocks especially in October. However if the only option put to us for a vote was BST+1 for summer and BST for winter then I would accept that. I would have to accept from the Government that income from tourism would benefit for this latter arrangement. Scotland would also benefit from BST+1 in this benefit from tourism.

David Hughes says:
28 February 2011

i think that having longer, lighter and later nights is a very good idea and, i am hoping that either the clocks don’t go back this october 2011, or they go forwardsw twice this spring once on the last sunday in march and on the last sunday in april or may day bank holiday weekend.
i certainly want longer summer nights especially down in the south of england with better use of daylight hours which we receive.
school children up in scotland will either be encouraged to wear yellow band around the arm so that they will be seen going to school in the dark or they might be encouraged to go to school later during the darker winter mornings say between 9 and 10 hours gmt plus 1.
i am fed up with those darker winter afternoons and all i could hope this winter has been the last winter of gmt

I do NOT want double ‘summer’ time, nor do I want ‘single summer time’ as it is at present. I want NATURAL time, which could be Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year OR British Summer Time throughout the year; and NO wholly UNNATURAL messing about with the time at any time of the year.

Sophie Gilbert says:
3 March 2011

Is a lot of this debate London-centric? In Edinburgh the sun sets at around 10 in the summer. Staying at GMT would mean it setting at 9: not a problem. Double BST would mean it setting at 11: the realm of the ridiculous at this latitude?

Edward says:
3 March 2011

I well recall during the last War 1939-45 winter time was one hour ahead of GMT (as British Summer Time BST) and in summer it was British Double Summer Time or BDST. I do not remember many problems with the arrangement then, and I believe after the war there was discussion whether to leave it as a permanent system. Any test of a similar timing would have to continue for more than one year to obtain reliable results about its effects.

It’s quite a close race in the poll, with 63% wanting the clocks to be changed to double summertime for longer evenings… so far anyway. Definitely a mixed response, and perhaps very reflective of the split of opinion in the country as a whole.

pre-pensioner says:
12 March 2011

I do remember the experiment in the late sixties – I fell down some steps at school in the pitch dark!
Whatever we do we cannot change the total amount of daylight available – if we gain in the evenings, we lose in the mornings. Now, in March, it is light when I get up at 7.00, and dark at 6.00; while it would be good to have an extra hour of daylight when I get home from work, I suspect it would be cold enough to deter me from wanting to spend too much time outdoors, and I definitely would not appreciate getting up in the dark. It seems to me that the only evening time gained would be for a few week in autumn – spring is still cold, summer is light anyway, and it will still be dark at 6.00 in winter. Where are all these tourists going to come from?

I’m glad the proposal for Single-Double-Summer time did not get into the Tourism Strategy. What a barmy idea!. How many of us base our decision, of where to go on holiday, on what time standard that country uses? How many people have said, “I don’t fancy going to Portugal; they use GMT there”? In any case, London tops the world capitals for tourism (source: Euromonitor International) as things are.

David Hughes makes an interesting point about school children could use “later” starting times in the winter. The construction industry could make a similar case. They like to make best usage of daylight so start earlier. If we adopted CET, they would need to make the choice – travel to work early as now, then wait for the sun to rise, or travel to work later and join the rush hour. What would that do to accident statistics.

Can’t we see that Summer Time is just a simple trick to make us do things earlier relative to the hours of daylight? So if we changed to “later” starting times, we would just be cancelling this out. So why do it?

As for accident rates – yes, they did fall during the British Standard Time period of 1968-1971. And they did not rise again when we went back to GMT. They continued to fall. This is largely attributable to other safety measures introduced around that time – speed limits, compulsory provision of seat belts, and the breathalyser. The effect of clock-changing on accident rates is unproved. In Portugal, where they tried Single-Double-Summertime in the early 1990s, accident insurance claims actually increased.

T A Sheppard says:
23 July 2011

I have always believed double summertime is the way forward in this modern age,If people north of the border are concerned about darker mornings why not ajust to the natural daylight untill the mornings pull out in Jan/Feb.I am sure scotland will see the difference in trade during the lighter evenings.School holidays are different in Scotland to England so why not ajust the start times if they so wish.I think its only fair to most people to give it a go for a three year period.

Alan T says:
23 July 2011

What about a third choice? Stick to Summer Time for the whole year. When the clocks change it always takes me some time to adjust to the change and I am sure that it upsets many other people. It is bad enough having to go through Autumn to winter without having the added stress of the clock change. During the war we had Double Summer Time which meant that it was still light when we went to bed. In the winter it was dark when we went into work and dark when we came out. Most of the factory was permanently blacked out so we only saw daylight briefly when we went across to the canteen at 12.30 and on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

Alan T says:
6 August 2011

So the whole World is changing the clocks twice a year!! That means that all the people of the World have to put up with the hassle of changing the clocks and getting themselves accustomed to the altered routine caused by the change over, For goodness sake make a decisision to go to Greenwich Time plus whatever suits that part of the world and stick to it. No more hassle and trauma caused by the change overs!!

Alan T – thanks for your many points, but I think you have missed a point here. If we stuck to a single time standard throughout the year, then to take advantage of extra daylight in the summer evenings we would need to adjust all our routines by one hour earlier. That would mean travel timetables, factory times, shop hours, broadcast programmes, etc., etc. would all need to be changed twice a year. That would be a lot more hassle than simply changing the clocks. That’s why we do it this way.