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Lighter mornings, darker evenings

At 2am on Sunday morning, 25 October, the clocks will go back an hour to 1am, as it has done for most years since 1916 in the UK.

It may mean an extra hour in bed for some (although my body clock wakes me up usually an hour earlier), but for many, particularly those working during the day indoors, it can mean that apart from days off and weekend, they may see very little daylight for several months.

Altering the clocks to allow workers more daylight time for outside tasks like construction work is nothing new. In fact it is known that the ancient Romans practiced something similar 2000 years ago, and Benjamin Franklin suggested the idea in a letter in 1784.

But it wasn't until William Willett, a builder, proposed the idea in 1907 to give people more daylight hours outside in winter that it was really taken seriously.

To many, that extra hour is no longer important. Good lighting systems now allow outdoor workers to continue working in the dark, so is it really still required? Every year there are calls for it to be scrapped. From next year, we are no longer tied to the EU rules about changing the clocks in unison with other member states each year, however, for now, we will continue to alter the clocks.

There was an experiment that lasted three years between 1968 and 1971. In March 1968, the clocks were put forward for an hour, but they were not put back until October 1971.

Road casualty data during this "British Summer Time +1" experiment suggested more people were injured in the darker mornings, but fewer people were injured in the lighter afternoons. It estimated a reduction of 2,700 people killed or seriously injured during the first two years of the experiment. This could however have been helped by the introduction of drink-drive legislation at the same time. Those living in the Midlands and southern Scotland may have benefited more from the change, but northern Scotland saw a large increase in the number killed on the roads.

Whatever happens in the future, it is important that people take precautions. If you are walking at night, wear something bright or hi-viz. If cycling, make sure you have decent lights on your bike too. This goes for children too.

And try and get out and about in daylight when you can. We may not get much vitamin D in winter, but we need it. Indeed, some studies have suggested vitamin D may even help in the fight against COVID-19.

Remember, stay safe get some natural daylight, and be seen this autumn and winter.


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