This year, Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, November 1st. As we set our clocks back an hour, it is important to recognize the effect this time change has on driving in our communities. Decreased daylight can make it more challenging for motorists to see people walking and bicycling, especially children. Morning and late afternoon sun glare reduces visibility for drivers, making it more difficult to spot people walking and bicycling from behind the wheel. Sadly, every year when the time changes, we see a spike in the number of injuries and fatalities of those on foot.
Here are a few tips to help keep everyone safe during this darker season:
- Sun glare blinds drivers. When the sun shines directly in your eyes, slow down and use extra caution especially while driving through school zones. If you can’t see, pull over and clean your windshield.
- Clean your windows well. Especially as mornings become frosty, get to your car a few minutes earlier to thoroughly clear snow and ice from all your windows and mirrors. Make sure your defroster and windshield wipers are in good working order and replace washer fluid as needed. Be sure to clean the inside of your windows too, as sun glare is amplified through dirty windows.
- Slow down and leave more room between you and other vehicles. When it’s darker out, you need more time to see people walking and bicycling. Slow down and always give them extra space when passing.
- Keep sunglasses in the car for unexpected glare. Invest in polarized sunglasses to reduce glare.
- Eliminate distractions. Don’t drive distracted or impaired. Any behavior that slows reaction time increases the risk of a crash.
- Always watch for people walking and bicycling. Many streets and roads lack adequate lighting especially at crosswalks and intersections. Be sure to look for people on bicycles riding with traffic and for people waiting to cross streets.
For People Walking and Bicycling:
- Be aware earlier dusk and dark hours reduce visibility. When walking at dusk or dark, it’s a good idea to bring a flashlight when you can. New Jersey law requires bicyclists to equip their bicycles with a white headlight and a red rear light when riding in the dark. Reflective materials on clothes and items are also a great investment.
- Ride with traffic and in the streets. When on your bicycle, ride predictably in a straight line (avoid swerving) and ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Use marked crosswalks and cross at signalized intersections whenever possible.
- Never assume that the driver of a vehicle sees you, even when you have the right of way. Give traffic an extra look before crossing at intersections. Be aware times of the day with heightened sun glare. Walk facing traffic, especially if there are no sidewalks.
In addition, during this pandemic please take extra precautions. Help yourself, family, and friends stay healthy by observing the three W’s: Wear a Mask, Watch Your Distance, and Wash Your Hands. However you get around this fall and winter, please be safe and look out for one another!