Today marks the end of Daylight Savings and the start of danger to come. An uptick in motor vehicle accidents around this time of the year puts everyone on the road at risk. As New Yorkers prepare for darker days ahead, these are the risk factors you need to know to keep your family safe on the streets.
Driving In The Dark
Fall and winter continue to be the most deadly seasons to drive. Dark roads significantly compromise essential driving functions such as visibility, depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision. Without light from the sun, drivers are left to rely on their headlights to guide the way. But even these tools are not enough to prevent accidents.
Nighttime accidents occur at three times the rate of daytime accidents. According to the National Safety Council, a driver’s visibility in the dark is limited to 250 feet with normal headlights. This provides drivers with far less time to react to road hazards, even when a driver is paying attention.
NYC motorists can increase their visibility at night by using the following safety methods:
- Keep headlights clean and aimed correctly at the road;
- Dim dashboard lighting to reduce glare;
- Wear anti-reflective glasses;
- Clean windshields and keep clear of items or hanging decor;
- Keep your speed slow; and
- Stay alert behind the wheel (no distractions).
Turning on the high beams can increase a driver’s visibility by another 250 feet, but they’re not always safe to use. These bright lights can blind pedestrians and other motorists in your path. Use them accordingly and when they pose the least harm to others.
A one hour change to your sleep schedule may affect your driving more than you think. According to the National Sleep Foundation, our internal circadian biological clock regulates our periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. When the sun rises, our body starts to wake. When the sun sets, our body becomes tired.
Unfortunately, the demands of our modern schedules have little place for circadian rhythm. With the end of Daylight Savings, millions of people will be behind the wheel and struggling to stay awake. Drowsy drivers are more likely to swerve, nod off, shift lanes, and have reduced reaction times, all actions known for leading to accidents.
Rush hour can also prove to be especially hazardous, with cars sitting in long lines of dark traffic for hours at a time. Drivers in these situations may nod off from waiting or enter a mental autopilot mode that blinds them to others on the road.
More than 60 percent of American adults admit to driving while drowsy, and 37 percent admit to falling asleep behind the wheel- don’t become a statistic. If you are too tired to drive, pull over, and take a rest. Don’t stay up late on Saturday to account for the one hour of extra sleep. And if you are finding you’re often too tired to drive, consider another mode of transportation to reduce your risk.
Aggressive drivers do not typically change their behaviors when driving in the dark. Reckless driving at night can drastically increase the severity of injuries in a car accident. Drivers have less time to spot hazards and stop for pedestrians or cyclists when it is dark, even more so if they are speeding or performing blind turns.
You may not think you are an aggressive driver, but reckless behaviors are contagious. According to the Governors Traffic Safety Committee, these are the driving behaviors you should be avoiding:
- Sharp turns;
- Hard braking;
- Fast accelerations;
- Risky lane maneuvers;
- Turning without signaling;
- Honking your horn; and
- Yelling or gesturing to other drivers on the road.
Try to stay calm and relaxed on the road and put your pride in the backseat.
Don’t escalate a situation. Move safely out of the way is a driver is using reckless behaviors and ignore harassing gestures. If a driver is showing extremely concerning behaviors, report them to local law enforcement.
Dusk and Darkness
Activity levels in NYC do not decrease after the clocks fall back. NY Department of Transportation (DOT) officials report November to March continues to be the most dangerous time of the year for pedestrians and cyclists in NYC. Between shorter days, darker walking conditions, and inclement weather, these New Yorkers are left fighting for their lives during their daily and nightly commutes.
In its fourth year running, the Vision Zero Dusk and Darkness safety campaign aims to spread awareness about the safety concerns with shorter days and earlier sunsets on the road. Beginning with the “Day of Awareness” last week, street teams across the city kicked off the campaign by engaging with drivers and pedestrians about the dangers of nighttime travel. These officials visited some of the most problematic areas of the city, prone to high rates of nighttime accidents, to encourage residents to stay alert.
With the official start of the Dusk and Darkness campaign, New Yorkers may notice a few changes on the streets including,
- Increased law enforcement;
- Emphasis on reckless driving violations;
- Radio ads during evening commutes to remind drivers to stay alert; and
- Safety posters across the city to spread awareness of nighttime road dangers.
Speeding, left-hand turns, and failure to yield are the leading culprits of vehicle accidents after dark. To reduce these hazards, Vision Zero officials and the NYPD encourages all motorists to do the following:
- Slow Down: People who drive 25 MPH or slower are better able to avoid crashes at night.
- Don’t Cut Corners: Turns faster than 5 MPH put pedestrians and cyclists at risk.
- Look Closely: Driver’s vision drops tenfold as night falls. Always watch for pedestrians and cyclists.
Stay Safe After Dark
Pedestrian fatalities are skyrocketing around the country. According to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian fatalities are higher than they have been in almost 30 years. More than 6,280 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2018, the highest percentage occurring after dark.
Pedestrians can reduce their risks of traffic accidents by staying alert and following these basic safety steps when walking at night:
- Use reflectors and lights to stay visible to cars;
- Only cross at crosswalks;
- Use the sidewalk when possible;
- Look both ways before you cross;
- Never assume a driver sees you;
- Wait for the walk signal before you enter the road; and
- Be predictable. Don’t expect others will always follow the rules.
New York City and Long Island Car Accident Attorneys
The end of Daylight Savings is no excuse for negligence on the road. Drivers in NYC have a responsibility to drive safely at all times, as well as to share the roads with pedestrians and cyclists. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another, our team at Siler & Ingber is here to help.
With a 98% success rate, we have the experience and the know-how to help our clients achieve a favorable outcome. Contact us today at 1-877-529-4343, or schedule an appointment online anytime. We never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.