Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 11, when most U.S. states will spring forward an hour. And with it come time changes in sunrise and sunset that may affect drivers and pedestrians. Across the nation pedestrian deaths have increased and 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.
Also, 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 2017, a nine percent increase from the previous year and a 25-year high, according to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Five densely populated states – Arizona, California, Florida, Texas and New York – accounted for 43 percent of the pedestrian deaths.
In California, there were 352 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2017. In Los Angeles, there were 134 pedestrian fatalities in 2017, an increase of 17 percent over the previous year, 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 also school children on foot,” 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.
- Carry a flashlight when walking or walking pets after dark.
- Walk on the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
- Parents should teach and reinforce children’s pedestrian safety habits.
The Auto Club recommends the following tips for drivers:
- All drivers should not drive impaired by alcohol or drugs or distraction.
- Drivers should 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.