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AAA Driving Home Two Daylight Saving Concerns
Drowsiness and Darkness Increase Risks for Drivers AND Pedestrians
One of the most anticipated “signs of spring” arrives this weekend when the clocks “spring forward” (Daylight Saving Time officially begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, March 11), losing an hour of our day in exchange for extended daylight hours throughout the summer. 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, drowsiness and darkness,” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “It’s important that both drivers and pedestrians are aware”.
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% of all crashes – that is 8 times higher than previous federal estimates.
According to UConn Crash Data, there were 285 fatal crashes in Connecticut last year, which means, according to the AAA Foundation research, at least 28 fatal crashes in which drowsy driving was a factor.
“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,” Parmenter says.
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.
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% of pedestrian fatalities happen when it’s dark, according to the latest findings from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
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 your iPod or MP3 player 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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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Connecticut. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.aaa.com.