Fleet News

Road safety: the dark reality of daylight savings time

Jakes de Kock, group marketing director, Radius Payment Solutions and UK Fuels looks at daylight savings time.


When you’re enjoying your extra hour in bed this winter, spare a thought for what that 60 minutes might cost.

While some dislike Daylight Saving Time (DST) for the minor inconvenience to their sleep cycles and busy schedules, there’s a more serious side to the scheme: the loss of an hour of afternoon sunlight when it ends may increase the likelihood of traffic accidents.

Darkness kills and sunlight saves lives, the question is ‘when do you want sunlight?

The answer is simple: more people are active during the evening, including kids, and the additional sunlight that DST provides helps provide drivers with the visibility necessary to see pedestrians.

At 5 pm virtually everyone in society is awake, there are far more people asleep at 7 in the morning than at 7 in the evening.

In addition to leading to poor visibility in darkness, some say the requirement for people to abruptly adapt to a time change overnight may lead to dangerous driving.

Even though it’s dark, you’re still behaving like it’s light during the first few weeks after a time change. People may drive faster and pedestrians may be less attentive.

Advocates of perpetual DST have safety on their side. Adding an hour of sunlight in the evening year-round would theoretically save the lives of many pedestrians vehicle occupants annually.

But despite this, some argue for more sunlight in the morning hours when children will be travelling to school. They can deal with darkness at the end of the day, but in the morning it’s tough getting everyone going.

Both advocates and opponents of DST can agree, however, that better light equals greater safety, which is why some road safety advocates say that communities need to focus on providing better artificial street lighting, regardless of whether it’s used in the morning or evening. The more visibility drivers have, the safer our roads are.

And my personal advice to drivers, and one that I strongly encourage you to adopt, is to seriously commit to getting the highest quality sleep you can possibly get. So that when you do wake up and it’s darker outside, you’ll be fully alert and won’t be affected as much.

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