IAM: ‘Changing British time zone good for motorists’

26th October 2012

Road safety should be a concern for motorists year round, but particularly so when the days get shorter and it becomes harder to spot pedestrians, cyclists and other potential hazards on the road.

As the nation prepares to wind back its clocks to mark the beginning of winter, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is suggesting that the British time zone is brought forward by an hour.

It argues that darker evenings lead to a greater number of people killed or injured on Britain's roads.

The IAM has analysed data from the Department for Transport's (DfT) Reported Road Casualties Great Britain and concluded that more accidents happen in winter.

According to the figures, motorcycle casualties were 28 per cent higher in November compared to the monthly average, the number of pedestrians killed or injured was 14 per cent higher, and cyclist casualties increased by five per cent.

The DfT is also campaigning for daylight saving Single Double Summer Time (SDST). The change would mean putting clocks forward throughout the year, rather than just in the summertime.

This would mean being one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time in winter and two hours ahead during the summer months.

Recent research from April 2009 quoted by the DFT revealed that as many as 80 deaths and 200 serious injuries could be prevented if SDST was implemented.

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, has suggested that making the evening lighter for longer would not just benefit motorists.

"[It] would save lives. While an extra hour of daylight would help to make the commute home much safer for all road users, children cyclists and motorcyclists would benefit most", he said.

The IAM is proposing a three-year trial of the system, and if after that time there has been a positive impact on road safety the new daylight hours should be kept.

Mr Best recently warned drivers that they should think whether their journey is entirely necessary in the winter months when the weather conditions can be severe.

As part of its campaign to encourage safe driving in the winter, the AIM has created a website drivingadvice.org.uk which has tips, weather and traffic updates to help motorists.

Drivers who must make journeys in the winter are advised to make a series of checks before they sets off.

It is important to think ahead and be prepared, which may mean changing a route if the driving conditions are poor.

For instance, motorists may want to avoid small, side roads if it has been snowing as they are less likely to have been gritted and could therefore be more hazardous.

It is also vital that drivers check that their windscreen wipers are working and that tyres are in good working condition.

The IAM states that tread depth is particularly important in the winter, with the optimum safety for tyres being three mm in the colder months.

An emergency kit should include a high-viz jacket, food and water, boots, de-icer, scraper, torch, shovel and a charged mobile phone with your breakdown emergency number, the IAM states.

There are plenty of precautions drivers can take once they are on the road, such as using the 'ice' setting, which most modern cars have.

Motorists should ensure they accelerate and brake smoothly and gradually and drive in the highest gear they can. The IAM advises starting the car in second gear.

The RAC recommends that drivers should have their vehicle checked and serviced on a regular basis.

It is particularly important to make checks before long journeys, and when the weather is bad.

The anti-freeze in the radiator can run out, so motorists should check this before setting off.

In addition to clearing a windscreen, it is important to ensure the lights are clear from debris and are working properly.

A car's battery should be replaced if it is unreliable, the RAC warns, and tyres should be correctly inflated.

While most of this advice is common sense, it is worth reminding yourself that it is quite easy to forget the basics when you are in a hurry to get somewhere, so in order to stay safe, you need to think ahead.

Visit ATS Euromaster to get your vehicle serviced in time for winter.

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