Could we save kids’ lives by not putting clocks back?

Keith Hellawell believes there would be fewer road accidents if the clocks didn't change.
Keith Hellawell believes there would be fewer road accidents if the clocks didn't change.
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Stopping the clocks from going back every winter could save hundreds of children’s lives on UK roads, says former West Yorkshire Chief Constable Keith Hellawell.

Persisting with British Summer Time throughout the whole year would significantly reduce road casualties, particularly to pedestrians, cyclists and schoolchildren, according to Mr Hellawell, who ran the West Yorkshire force from 1992-97.

He has conducted research, using official Department for Transport statistics, which shows the number of road fatalities and casualties hits a peak in October, November and December, despite the fact that road usage actually drops significantly in those months.

More than 1,200 children have been killed on the roads in the past 10 years and the peak time for pedestrian casualties is just after 4pm on weekdays when children are making their way home from school.

The clocks going back, brings twilight forward meaning youngsters are often making their way home in the dark.

Mr Hellawell, whose research was conducted for motor safety company SmartWitness, said: “Driver and pedestrian reaction times are considerably reduced at night-time and even at urban road speeds of 30mph this can mean the difference between life and death on the roads.

“When the clocks go back at the end of October most schoolchildren are making their way home in the dark and this contributes to a great number of casualties on the roads.”

He added: “The SmartWitness research has been taken from Department for Transport statistics and they clearly show that the number of accidents in the evening is significantly higher than those in the morning – around 37% higher – so by sticking with British Summer Time and therefore having lighter afternoons and darker mornings it’s statistically sound to expect that there would be hundreds of fewer road casualties in the last three months of the year.”

• Last year, the total number child casualties on Britain’s roads was 16,604 - more than 45 a day and an increase of 6% on 2013, according to Department for Transport figures.

The number of children killed or seriously injured was 2,060 - almost six a day and a rise of 3% on 2013.

Road deaths are highest in Quarter 4 (Oct, Nov, Dec) despite the most number of vehicles on the road being in Quarter 3 (Jul, Aug, Sep).

The casualty figures are lower in Quarter 1 (Jan, Feb, Mar), when it also gets dark early, but there are fewer vehicles on the road due to bad weather.