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TOWSON, MD (March 7, 2019) –– This weekend we “spring forward” and sacrifice 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 a.m. Sunday, March 10, and while changing the clocks might be a welcome 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 Ragina Cooper Averella, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “It’s critical that both drivers and pedestrians are aware of these dangers.”
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.
Maryland was one of four states to receive a $15,000 grant “to create information campaigns about the dangers of drowsy driving.” Maryland focused its grant efforts on creating a drowsy driving prevention campaign for healthcare providers, “a group particularly at-risk for fatigued driving due to working long, irregular hours.” The grant was awarded by the Governors Highway Safety Association during 2017. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 795 fatalities (2.1 percent of total fatalities) involved a drowsy driver in 2017.
“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,” Averella 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. Sunrise in Baltimore will be at 7:24 a.m. next Monday compared to 6:30 a.m. today. 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).
As most pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas, the GHSA also examined changes in the number of pedestrian fatalities for the ten most populous U.S. cities. According to the GHSA, “The total number of pedestrian fatalities for the ten largest cities decreased by about 15 percent, from 2016 to 2017, but remained about 9 percent higher than in 2015.” There were 704 pedestrian fatalities in 2016 and 601 fatalities in 2017. Nationwide, “the GHSA projects that 6,227 pedestrian fatalities occurred in 2018, the highest number in nearly three decades.”
AAA offers motorists and pedestrians the following safety tips:
AAA Tips for Drivers
AAA Tips for Pedestrians
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