AAA: Two Daylight Saving Time concerns

daylight saving timeThis weekend we “spring forward” sacrificing an hour of sleep for extended daylight hours that can be enjoyed throughout the summer and into early November.  Daylight Saving Time officially begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, March 10, and while changing the clocks might be a welcomed step toward spring, AAA says the transition puts both drivers and pedestrians at greater risk.

“There are two factors contributing to the increased risk following Daylight Saving Time – drowsiness and darkness,” says Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “It’s important that both drivers and pedestrians are aware.”

Drowsy Driving:

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently released the most in-depth drowsy driving research ever conducted in the U.S, using footage of everyday drivers, which found drowsy driving is a factor in about 10 percent of all crashes – that is eight times higher than previous federal estimates. 

“AAA warns that drivers who miss just one or two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash,” advised Arnette.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily. In a recent related AAA Foundation survey, nearly all drivers (96 percent) say they view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior. However, 29 percent admitted to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.

Darkness:

The other issue increasing risk with the time change is darkness.

The Monday morning commute, and the morning commute for several weeks to come, will be much darker than what drivers are used to, a serious concern because 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities happen when it’s dark, according to the latest findings from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

Nationwide, “the GHSA projects that 6,227 pedestrian fatalities occurred in 2018, the highest number in nearly three decades.”

According to the 2017 Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Crash Data, there were 114 pedestrian deaths in Virginia and 69% of those happened when it was dark outside.  

AAA offers motorists and pedestrians the following safety tips:

AAA Tips for Drivers

  • Slow down, pay attention and eliminate all distractions.
  • Watch out for pedestrians when backing up in parking lots or driveways.
  • Sun glare can make it difficult to see so:
    • Increase your following distance from the vehicle ahead of you;
    • Utilize your sun visor and invest in polarized sunglasses, as both can help reduce glare.
  • Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible during early morning and evening hours.
  • Keep vehicle headlights and windows (inside and out) clean.
  • Watch the high beams.  Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are around.
  • Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.

AAA Tips for Pedestrians

  • Cross at intersections or crosswalks – not in the middle of the street or between parked cars.  Do not jaywalk.
  • 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 near traffic at dawn, dusk and night. Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
  • Allow extra time and distance for a vehicle to stop in inclement weather.
  • While walking, pocket the cell phone and avoid listening to music at a volume that prohibits you from hearing approaching danger.
  • Do not let umbrellas or jacket hoods block your view of approaching traffic.
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