Since clocks “fell back” to standard time on Sunday, and it now gets dark one hour earlier, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) reminds motorists to watch out for pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists on the drive home. Research from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute confirms that pedestrians are more at risk of serious injury from a motor vehicle crash in the weeks following a return to standard time. The most dangerous time is the first hour of darkness.
“Drivers need to realize that, after the time change on Nov. 3, it may be more challenging to see people walking, running, or bicycling during late afternoons and early evenings as they will be much less noticeable,” said State Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba. “To ensure visibility, pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists are encouraged to wear brighter colored clothing with reflective material. Drivers need to eliminate distractions and focus fully on the task of driving.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 6,283 pedestrian deaths and 857 bicyclist deaths resulting from traffic crashes in 2018. Unfortunately, these incidents were 3.4 percent and 6.3 percent increases, respectively, from the previous year. NHTSA’s data showed that most of the pedestrian fatalities (76 percent) and bicyclist fatalities (50 percent) occurred during dark conditions between 6 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. Last year in Michigan, there were 145 pedestrian fatalities and 21 bicyclist fatalities in traffic crashes, with 78 percent pedestrian fatalities and 57 percent bicyclist fatalities involved in traffic crashes that occurred during dark conditions.