The Darkest Hour
After Clock Change, Crashes from 5-6pm more than Double
AAA, Watch for Me CT, Warn of Increased Risk for Motorists and Pedestrians
HARTFORD, CT - The end of Daylight Saving Time may mean an extra hour of sleep this weekend but AAA and Watch for Me CT are warning motorists and pedestrians about darker days ahead, especially during the evening commute.
Specifically, AAA analysis of UConn Crash Data indicates that last year the number of crashes across Connecticut between 5 and 6pm more than doubled – in fact, there were 2-and-a-half times as many - in the two weeks following the time change compared to the two weeks prior. Crashes jumped from just over 320 before, to almost 840 after.
“While the statistics do not indicate a specific cause, there is ample research that drowsiness, distraction and darkness could all be contributing factors,” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “It is critical that motorists adjust their driving behaviors along with their clocks."
Even though there is an hour of sleep gained, the time change means a disruption to your body clock, so drowsy driving is also a concern for a period immediately following the time change.
So much so that the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has designated Nov 3-10 as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
The NSF reports drowsy driving is responsible for more than 6,400 US deaths annually. And, previous research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found drowsy driving to be highly under-reported, with the percentage of crashes in involving drowsiness to be 8 times higher than federal estimates.
Cause for Concern among Pedestrian Safety Advocates
The darker days are also cause for concern at Watch for Me CT, a program of Connecticut Children’s and the Connecticut Department of Transportation, initiated after a spike in pedestrian deaths in 2016.
“Last year, within days of the clock change, a pedestrian was struck and killed in Glastonbury during the evening commute,” says Amy Watkins, Pedestrian Safety Coordinator at Watch for Me CT. “These aren’t just numbers, they are people – fathers, mothers, children, friends – and, as days grow shorter, they are at greater risk."
According to crash data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 75 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur after dark.
AAA offers the following Tips for Drivers during the adjustment period:
- Slow down.
- Eliminate distractions.
- Drive defensively.
- Turn on your headlights to become more visible during early morning and evening hours.
- Keep vehicle headlights and windows (inside and out) clean.
- Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are around.
- Yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
Watch for Me CT offers these Tips for Pedestrians and Bicyclists"
- Cross only at intersections. Look left, right and left again and only cross when it is clear. Do not jaywalk.
- Cross at the corner - not in the middle of the street or between parked cars.
- Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks. If you have to walk on a road that does not have sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
- Evaluate the distance and speed of oncoming traffic before you step out into the street.
- Wear bright colors or reflective clothing if you are walking or biking near traffic at night. Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
- Avoid listening to music or make sure it is at a low volume so you can hear danger approaching.
- Bicycle lights are a ‘must have’ item for safe night riding, especially during the winter months when it gets dark earlier.
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