Less Daylight and Longer Nights Create Increased Driving Dangers; Tips

road reflectorsDaylight Saving Time has ended, and all will experience shorter days, longer nights, and darkness settling in earlier than we have been used to for the last seven months.

With the clocks turned back, AAA Mid-Atlantic advises motorists and pedestrians to think ahead and be aware of the hazards associated with driving and walking during the night and early morning hours.

“Most motorists understand that their visibility is limited significantly when driving in darkness compared to driving when sunlight is plentiful,” said Sue Madden, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “We’re reminding motorists that, starting next week, many will be driving home in the dark and to pay special attention to other motorists and pedestrians who may be traveling during that same.  And the risk of drowsy driving also increases with the time change.”

The end to Daylight Saving Time also means motorists should be prepared for sun glare during their morning commute, and if driving in the late afternoon.  “The morning sun may cause reflections off car windows, hoods or other metallic portions of automobiles and can be a serious hazard to drivers and pedestrians,” said Madden. “Sun glare tends to be worse in the morning and in the late afternoon.  The glare may cause temporary blindness.”

To reduce glare, AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends investing in and wearing high-quality sunglasses, and adjusting the car’s sun visors as needed. Late afternoon driving also presents a similar glare problem, so drivers are advised to heed the same recommendations. Drivers can also use the night setting on the rearview mirror to avoid glare from headlights approaching them from behind.

In 2014, the highest percentage, 25 percent, of weekday pedestrian fatalities nationwide occurred from 6:00 p.m. to 8:59 p.m. compared to the lowest percentage, five percent, in the morning, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:59 a.m.

“Pedestrians need to remember that motorists may not always see them at night as well as in the morning and late afternoon as motorists fight sun glare.  Pedestrians need to do their part by practicing safety guidelines that will help ensure motorists can see them,” added Madden.

Night-Time Driving Tips for Motorists

  • Keep headlights, tail lights, signal lights, and windows (inside and out) clean.
  • Have your headlights properly aimed. If not properly aimed, headlights will blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
  • If there is any doubt, turn your headlights on. Lights will not help you see better in early twilight, but they’ll make it easier for other drivers to see you.
  • Reduce your speed and increase your following distances. It is more difficult to judge other vehicles’ speeds and distances at night.
  • When following another vehicle, keep your headlights on low beams so you don’t blind the driver ahead of you.
  • If an oncoming vehicle doesn’t lower beams from high to low, avoid glare by watching the right edge of the road and using it as a steering guide.
  • Do not drive while fatigued, drinking alcohol, or after taking certain medicines that can cause drowsiness.

Pedestrian Safety Tips

  • Cross only at intersections or crosswalks and not in the middle of the street or between parked cars.
  • Stop at the curb and look left, right, and left again before you step into the street. Evaluate the distance and speed of oncoming traffic before you step out into the street.
  • 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.
  • Wear bright colors or reflective clothing if you are walking near traffic at night. Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
  • Allow extra time and distance for a vehicle to stop in inclement weather.
  • Do not let umbrellas or jacket hoods block your view of approaching traffic.
  • While walking, pocket the cell phone and avoid listening to your music player at a volume that prohibits you from hearing approaching danger.



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