With the end of daylight saving time this weekend, motorists will be presented with challenges that could impact pedestrian safety. AAA East Central recommends motorists prepare for potential problems associated with changes in sleep patterns, brighter morning commutes, and darker evening commutes.
“While the extra hour of sleep may feel nice on Sunday morning, the time change can lead to greater risks behind the wheel,” said Lori Cook, safety advisor, AAA East Central. “The time change can affect concentration, attention and decision making, so motorists should take extra precautions in the weeks ahead to avoid putting pedestrians in harm’s way.”
When combined with an earlier dusk, disturbed sleep patterns can become a formula for fatigue-related crashes. Researchers at Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University have found that the effects of the time change on motorists have been shown to last up to two weeks. Moreover, the National Sleep Foundation reports that sleep-deprived drivers cause more than 6,400 deaths and 50,000 debilitating injuries on American roadways each year.
The dangers of sleep deprivation are further highlighted by the latest AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index. Ninety-five percent of motorists view drowsy driving as very or extremely dangerous, but 17% admitted to driving when they were so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at least once in the previous 30 days before the survey (2020 Traffic Safety Culture Index)
Tips for motorists:
Get plenty of rest. Symptoms of drowsy driving can include having trouble keeping your eyes open, drifting from lanes, or not remembering the last few miles driven.
Watch for deer. November and December are peak months for deer-vehicle collisions. Don’t forget – your clock has changed, but theirs has not.
Get some shades. Wear high-quality sunglasses and adjust the car’s sun visors as needed to avoid glare in the morning.
Change driving habits. Reduce speeds and increase following distances, especially in more populated areas.
Ditch the distractions. This can include cell phones, infotainment systems, or clocks that need to be turned back an hour.
Use the headlights. This can make you more visible to pedestrians in the morning and evening.
Remember to yield. Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks. Also, don’t pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks. Remember to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks.
Tips for pedestrians:
Cross only at intersections or crosswalks. Look left, right and left again and only cross when it is clear. Do not jaywalk or cross between parked cars.
Use the sidewalk. If you have to walk on the road, be sure to walk facing traffic.
Dress brightly. Wear bright or reflective clothing if you are walking or biking near traffic at night. Consider carrying a flashlight.
Avoid distracted walking. This includes looking at your phone, wearing headphones, or listening to music.
Bike smartly. Bicycle lights are a must-have item for safe night riding, especially during the winter months when it gets darker earlier.