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TOWSON, MD (November 1, 2017) –– Beginning at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 5, daylight saving time will end, which will result in fewer daylight hours. As we prepare to turn our clocks back one hour, AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education warn motorists to be prepared for sun glare during their Monday morning commute and for reduced visibility on the road during their Monday evening commute.
The time change can cause disturbed sleep patterns, and when combined with the earlier dusk and darkness during the evening commute, become a formula for drowsy driving and fatigue-related crashes – conditions many drivers may be unaware of during the time change.
When clocks “fall back” in autumn, drowsy driving becomes a significant threat to motorists, cautions AAA. That is because their evening commute will now take place in darkness.
“While many will enjoy an extra hour of sleep this weekend, few commuters and motorists realize the added dangers that can come as the result of a time change – especially when they are behind the wheel,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “This one hour shift in time during the fall not only creates darker driving conditions, it can also disturb sleep patterns, perhaps even resulting in drowsy driving episodes.”
Drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash, according to a December 2016 report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. One in five fatal crashes in the U.S. is the result of drowsy driving.
Sleep-deprived drivers cause more than 6,400 deaths and 50,000 debilitating injuries on American roadways each year, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).
Motorists are reminded of the other potential driving hazards that low light or dark conditions bring especially as dusk falls. “Twilight is one of the most challenging times to drive because your eyes are adjusting to the increasing darkness,” added Averella.
According to the National Safety Council, the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater at night than during the day. After sundown, a motorist’s depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision can be compromised. Additionally, headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporarily blind a driver.
In addition, most pedestrian fatalities occur after sundown. In 2015, 74 percent of pedestrian fatalities nationwide occurred in the dark, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In Maryland, nearly 65 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred from 6:00 pm to 5:59 am, according to 2015 data from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office.
“Pedestrians need to remember that motorists may not always see them at night or in the morning and late afternoon as motorists fight sun glare,” said Myra Wieman, Traffic Safety Program Manager with the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education. “Pedestrians need to do their part by wearing bright colors and crossing at intersections or corners, which increases their visibility to motorists.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education offer the following tips to motorists and pedestrians while driving or walking during low light or dark conditions:
AAA Tips for Night-Time Driving
Reduce speed and increase following distances. It is more difficult to judge other vehicles’ speeds and distances at night.
Turn on headlights to see better during dawn and dusk and to be more visible to other drivers.
Keep headlights, tail lights, signal lights, and windows (inside and out) clean.
Have headlights properly aimed. If not properly aimed, headlights will blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
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 after drinking alcohol, while fatigued, or after taking certain medicines that can cause drowsiness.
AAA Tips for Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Cross at intersections or corners. Do not cross in the middle of the street or between parked cars.
Evaluate the distance and speed of oncoming traffic before you step out into the street. Remember, during inclement weather, a vehicle needs extra time and distance to stop.
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 or biking near traffic at night. Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
Bicycle lights are a ‘must have’ item for safe night riding, especially during the winter months when it gets dark earlier.
Do not let umbrellas or jacket hoods block your view of approaching traffic.
Avoid listening to music or use only one earbud so you can hear danger approaching.
For more safety tips, visit the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education’s website at AAA.com/TrafficSafety.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than 937,000 members in Maryland. 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 AAA.com.