To spring forward or fall back?

It used to be that making any suggestion of not putting the clocks back in the autumn would produce a heated debate, with probably more arguing against any change than those proposing it.

But, I detect a shift in opinion. There seems to be more people now who are at least open-minded on this recurring issue.

In the 1970s Britain ran an experiment between October 1968 and October 1971. During that time the clocks didn’t change at all.

BST was subtly changed to mean British Standard Time and the country ran all year round on GMT + 1 hour. That meant that, during the winter, we were on the same time zone as Central European Time and one hour behind during the summer.

Union Street at dusk
This time next month, as the Christmas lights go up, it will be getting dark before 4pm!

Analysis after the 1968-1971 experiment revealed that there had been an increase in casualties during the dark mornings. However, there was an even greater decrease in casualties during the evening.

Indeed, safety is one of the arguments put forward by Lighter Later and RoSPA in favour of keeping the clocks one hour forward in the winter. Although it would be darker in the morning, there would be an additional hour of daylight in the evening.

School children, in particular, it is argued, would be safer. They tend to go directly to school in the morning, often accompanied by a parent. In the evening, they are less likely to be supervised and more likely to be playing with friends and less alert to dangers on the roads, or elsewhere.

Additionally, it is said that keeping the clocks an hour forward would reduce energy usage.

Every time the suggestion comes up, however, our friends south of the border always moan about Scottish farmers vetoing the change. Well, this time, even Scottish farmers seem to be, if not favourable, at least less opposed!

Personally, I would welcome the clocks staying forward an hour. In the mornings I am going to work and that is my focus. If it is dark, so what, it is dark. I’d much rather have the extra hour of daylight in the evening so that I could do things outdoors – which would probably be healthier, as an added bonus.

But, as I type these words, I am sure there will be people out there grinding their teeth and muttering “over my dead body”!

  • The 1968-71 experiment wasn’t the first time Britain had shifted the clocks forward an extra hour. During World War 2, from Winter 1940 Britain was on GMT + 1hour during the winter and GMT +2 hours during the summer for the duration of the war.
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