AAA: Drivers and pedestrians should be cautious as daylight savings ends

Starting at 2AM on Sunday, November 6, Daylight Saving Time will end and the night will start earlier, increasing the chance for night time accidents.

AAA Mid-Atlantic asks that both drivers and pedestrians 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 Ragina C. Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “We’re reminding motorists that, starting next week, many will be driving home in the dark and special attention to other motorists and pedestrians that may be traveling during that same time will be necessary. The risk of drowsy driving also increases with the time change.”

AAA officials also note that the end to Daylight Saving Time means drivers should be ready for sun glare during their morning commute, and while 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 Averella. “Sun glare tends to be worse in the morning and in the late afternoon. The glare may cause temporary blindness.”

AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends investing in and wearing high-quality sunglasses, and adjusting the car’s sun visors as needed in order to reduce glare from the sun. Officials say that 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 6PM to 8:59PM compared to the lowest percentage, five percent, in the morning, from 9AM to 11:59AM, according to AAA.

The Maryland State Highway Office reports that in Maryland, almost 50% of pedestrian fatalities happened between the hours of 5-11PM.

“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 Averella.

AAA Night-Time Driving Tips For Drivers:

  • 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.

AAA 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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