Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 10, when most U.S. states will spring forward an hour. With turning of the clocks, come changes in light that may affect drivers and pedestrians.
Across the nation pedestrian deaths accounted for 16 percent of all traffic fatalities and during spring months (March to May) the second-largest group (21 percent) of pedestrian fatalities occurred from 6 to 8:59 p.m., according to federal data. That’s why the Automobile Club of Southern California urges all adults to pay attention while driving or walking outdoors and for parents to teach children playing outside to watch out for motorists.
Motorists should drive slower and should be extra alert, especially in neighborhoods and school zones because more pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists will be enjoying the outdoors on or near streets in the longer evening daylight hours, according to the Auto Club.
Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016, according to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The number of pedestrian deaths was highest in California (867), Texas (672) and Florida (652).
In California, there were 352 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2017. In Los Angeles, there were 134 pedestrian fatalities in 2017, the highest number in 15 years, according to the city’s Dept. of Transportation data.
When the time changes, drivers can expect reduced visibility during the morning commute since sunrise is not until after 7 a.m. “The early morning drive to work or school will be darker and makes it more difficult to see pedestrians and children walking to school,” said Anita Lorz Villagrana of the Auto Club’s Community Programs and Traffic Safety Dept. “Drivers also may need to turn on their headlights, if beginning their commute in the early morning and then turn their car headlights off when they get to their destination.”
The Auto Club recommends the following tips for pedestrian safety:
- See and be seen – drivers need to see you to avoid you.
- Pay attention. Put down your cell phone while walking.
- Make eye contact with drivers when crossing streets.
- Wear bright colors or reflective clothing at dusk and at night.
- Use a flashlight when walking or walking pets after dark.
- Walk on the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
- Avoid alcohol or drugs when walking; they impair judgement and coordination.
The Auto Club recommends the following tips for drivers:
- Drivers should not drive impaired by alcohol or drugs or distraction.
- Slow down and watch for children and families in neighborhoods and along school bus routes, at intersections and when backing out of driveways.
- Always yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
- When approaching a crosswalk, reduce speed and be prepared to stop.
- When stopped at a crosswalk, allow enough room between your vehicle and the crosswalk so other drivers can see the pedestrians you have stopped for.
- Teen drivers should exercise extra caution.