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Clock change link to accidents

Thursday May 24th, 2012

Britain's twice yearly clock change is causing a steep increase in traffic accidents, surgeons warned yesterday.

Clocks change in the spring and the autumn, allowing Britons to get up an hour 'later' in the winter, when mornings are dark. But doctors now say it does not save lives.

But a new study, reported to a European conference, shows a big increase in motorcycle accidents in the spring - and a big increase in pedestrian accidents in the autumn.

Researchers from Oxford, UK, say the increase in accidents is across the board - except for a slight fall in pedestrian accidents in the spring.

But following the spring change, when Britons lose an hour's sleep, motorcycle accidents increased by more than 40 per cent.

The findings were reported to the Congress of the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology in Berlin, Germany.

Researcher Dr Joseph Alsousou said: "The study shows complex changes in serious or fatal road traffic injuries in different groups of road-users.

“The results from certain subgroups demonstrate that the shift to daylight savings time does not save lives.

"This is particularly evident amongst motorcyclists. This may be due to a number of factors, including reduced visibility, variations in road use following the changes in light level and a disturbance of circadian rhythms.

"Further work on this area is now needed to develop informed accident prevention strategies."

The conference has heard that 1.3 million people die in road accidents around the world every year - with the numbers rising as poor countries experience economic growth.

The World Health Organisation says this could rise to 1.9 million by 2020 - and has declared a "decade of action for road safety".

Dr Manjul Joshipura, a WHO trauma care specialist, said: "The aim is to reduce the number of road fatalities to about 900,000."

In Europe the number of deaths fell from 54,000 a year in 2000 to 30,000 in 2010, the conference heard.

Tags: A&E | Europe | General Health | UK News

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