A brief history of Daylight Saving

 
 

Hopefully everyone has adjusted after that one hour less in bed on Sunday and we can all look forward to brighter, longer evenings now that we have made the switch to IST, Irish Standard or Summer time.

This periodic changeover of course has many historical uses in aiding farmers to protecting children walking to school on dark mornings.

However, a nationwide experiment carried out in Great Britain in 1968 revealed an interesting anomaly. The clocks were left alone that winter and no change was made. As was expected, accident rates increased in the darker mornings.

However, there was a compensating factor at the other end of the day. In fact, there was a net reduction on the number of deaths on the road that year. It would seem that drivers are more prone to accidents in the evening after a days work when they are tired.

Yet as scientific journalist Robert Matthews pointed out, more accidents in the morning meant more children killed on the roads and thus more sensational headlines. While many people were alive that undoubtedly wouldn’t have been had the usual changeover been observed, these ‘survivors’ were statistical phantoms. If they couldn’t be identified, they essentially didn’t exist.

Children being injured or killed on the roads was horrific news, while survivors unaware of their good fortune were invisible. The British government returned Daylight Saving the following year.

– Alan Coughlan

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