D for Darkness and Danger in and around Aberdeen

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is urging people to take special care following the changing of the clocks early on Sunday morning. Indeed RoSPA goes further and is calling for the Government to keep the clocks one hour forward. RoSPA claim this would save 450 lives and serious injuries each year.

Their proposal would mean Britain simply not moving the clocks back next autumn, then returning to the normal cycle thereafter. That would put the UK on the same time zone as most of our neighbours across the North Sea. We would be one hour ahead of GMT in the winter and two hours ahead in the summer.

Holburn Junction
How much safer would Aberdeen be if it was like this during an evening rush-hour in the winter?

There was an experiment in the 1970s when the clocks did not change back for the winter. For that year the initials BST were changed to mean British Standard Time rather than British Summer Time. The experiment was abandoned, largely because of the agriculture lobby.

It was popular, however, with the population in Aberdeen City & Shire. It meant that the black dark that sets in at 4 pm in the dead of winter, did not happen until 5 pm.

That extra hour of daylight at the end of the day is important according to safety campaigners. RoSPA says that vulnerable people, like children and the elderly, are in much more danger during dark evenings than in the mornings.

I'm sure if we all think back to our childhood we can see why. On the way to school we tended just to walk straight there, on the way home we would be with friends and possibly - kids being kids - somewhat distracted from danger. Can we add to that the commuters who are perhaps tired and exhausted at the end of a day, rather than awake and alert after a night's sleep?

I can also see the justification for RoSPA's other claims. They say that the extra hour of daylight at the end of each day would give people a chance to be more active outdoors, walking, jogging, or even just working in the garden.

Still not convinced? Well, here's another 'biggie' benefit.

Turning the clocks back produces a huge surge in the amount of energy we use. A recent report shows a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions and power usage. Lighter evenings would reduce that.

At the moment, however, we are stuck with GMT from Sunday evening onwards. So it is time to think about visibility and taking extra care during the dark evenings.

Check your lights, whether you drive a car or ride a bike. Children (and any other vulnerable pedestrians) should wear light clothing, preferably high-visibility clothing with reflectors.

Most importantly, remember that the biggest cause of road accidents (a third of the total) is quite simply a failure to look properly. In the dark, it is more difficult, so it is everyone's duty to take a little more care.

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