The clocks went back an hour this morning to mark the return to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Every year since 1916 – excluding the second world war years – the clocks have changed twice a year, bringing lighter mornings during the winter at a cost darker evenings.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has been campaigning for years to do away with the GMT timezone in an effort to cut the number of accidents and deaths during the half year GMT is in force.
RoSPA estimates that the number of deaths on the roads could be reduced by 80% if the clocks were put forward one hour throughout the year as it would result in more daylight during the working day.
There have been attempts to change the law covering timezones but these have failed because it would mean parts of Scotland being in darkness until past 10am during winter. A bill to introduce the Single Double Summer Time (SDST) timezone recommended by RoSPA to cut annual road deaths by 80% was talked out by an MP elected in Scotland who considered the increased danger for a million people in northern Scotland far more important than increasing the safety of 50m in England. The bill included an explicit opt-out for Scotland which would allow it to retain the current GMT/BST arrangement so there was no need for Scottish MPs to interfere.
Control of timezones should be devolved in all four home nations because what is best for Scotland and Northern Ireland isn’t what is best for England and Wales. An English government could (and I imagine would at a very early juncture) adopt the SDST timezone recommended by RoSPA and start saving English lives and money (RoSPA estimates £138.36m per year) whilst Scotland would be free to keep GMT/BST and even rename the timezones to Glasgow Mean Time and Bannockburn Summer Time.
RoSPA’s prediciton of an 80% reduction in road deaths by adopting the SDST timezone is a UK-wide prediction. Bearing in mind that it would make deaths more likely in Scotland, this means that road deaths in England would be reduced by more than 80%. But, of course, the first step to saving hundreds of English lives a year from unnecessary deaths on the roads (not to mention over a hundred millions pounds of cost savings) is to establish an English Parliament and get England governed by politicians who will put the interests of 50m English people before the interests of a million Scots.