Fading light to drive up motor insurance claims

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The Independent Online

Motor insurance claims will rise by up to a third over the next few weeks, due to the surge in car crashes that follows the putting back of the clocks in October each year.

Motor insurance claims will rise by up to a third over the next few weeks, due to the surge in car crashes that follows the putting back of the clocks in October each year.

According to First Alternative, the specialist motor insurance provider, insurance claims rose by more than 32 per cent last year in the week after the clocks went back.

During the same period, the number of claims in the evening rush hours - between 5pm and 8pm - increased by more than 41 per cent. First Alternative says that much of this increase stems from drivers failing to adapt to driving home from work in the dark again.

Colin Batabyal, the company's chief executive , said: "Our figures show that it takes people a while to adapt to driving home in the dark, and they should be aware of this and take extra care.

"Motorists will not have driven in these conditions for several months and will be faced both with driving in the dark and coping with worsening winter conditions. Suddenly being plunged into the dark on the drive home could be argued to be similar to driving in a foreign country.

He added: "On top of this, the extra hours of darkness that the winter brings allow car thieves more protection for carrying out their crimes.

"The darker months mean motorists need to be more vigilant, both on the road and when they leave their cars."

Nigel Beard, the Labour MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, is campaigning to get the clocks put forward to Greenwich Mean Time plus one hour in the winter and GMT plus two hours in the summer. The aim of this would be to provide lighter evenings and so reduce the number of crashes.

However, his private members' bill has received opposition from many parties, particularly those in Scotland, who would not see sunrise until nearly 10am in December if the changes were made.

The UK experimented with a similar system to that proposed by Mr Beard in 1968 and 1971. Although the number of car crashes reduced substantially in the evenings, there was an increase in morning incidents, including a rise in the number of children involved in crashes on their way to school.

Mr Beard argues that being on the same time as the rest of Western Europe would increase the UK's competitiveness.

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