In addition to raking leaves, one thing many of us can also look forward to this weekend is setting our clocks back one hour for Daylight Saving Time. You probably know the time change is a good reminder to check the batteries in your smoke detectors, but it could also mean a change in your safe driving habits.
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reminds us that the seasonal shrinking of daylight hours means that darkness falls at least one hour earlier.
Sun glare and darkness will now occur during different parts of your familiar driving or walking routine. And since sleep patterns are also affected by seasonal changes, INDOT and NHTSA warns drivers to be aware of their need for rest and the effects that a loss of sleep can have on driving attention and fatigue.
What does that mean for drivers? The pedestrians you’re used to seeing on your drive home from work will still be there, but they will be more difficult to see. During evening hours, you simply need more time and alertness to see nearby pedestrians.
So, please, as you adjust to the new visibility conditions, slow down and exercise greater caution.
For pedestrians, seasonal changes mean that you also need to be more careful. Take steps to make yourself more visible, and always give the traffic an extra look before crossing the street– even when the crosswalk signal indicates it is okay to proceed.
INDOT and NHTSA offer you these tips. We urge you to give them a look and share them with your loved ones:
Slow down. During the evening hours, you need more time to see a pedestrian in your path.
Don’t drive distracted or impaired. Any behavior that slows your reaction time, increases the risk of a crash.
Keep in mind that pedestrians who are wearing headphones, hats or earmuffs may not hear your vehicle as it approaches.
Keep your windshield, windows, and mirrors clean.
Make sure your defrosters and windshield wipers are working properly and that washer fluid is replaced as needed.
Carry a flashlight or attach reflective materials – such as fluorescent tape – to clothing, backpacks, purses, and briefcases. These materials reflect light from headlights back to drivers, making it easier to see you.
Don’t depend on the traffic signal to protect you. Motorists may be distracted, especially when adjusting to the nighttime travel environment.
Avoid jaywalking and crossing between parked vehicles. Crosswalks offer a safer alternative.
Walk on sidewalks whenever possible.
If you must walk on the street, face traffic.
When crossing the street, look left-right-left for cars from the curb.
Do not cross the street if a car is coming, and always use a crosswalk if available.
Watch out for cars at every driveway and intersection.
Stay completely focused on the road and avoid distractions like smartphones and tablets when walking.