We gained an extra hour of sleep with the recent daylight savings time change. But the change also ushered in more dangerous roadways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging drivers to be more cautious on our roadways as the sun sets even earlier. Only about a quarter of travel happens during the evening hours, but more than half of all fatal car accidents in Tuscaloosa happen during this time.
Pedestrians are at serious risks during this time as well. The NHTSA reports that about 4,100 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2009. Nearly 60,000 more were injured. About 25 percent of these accidents happened between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Another 13 percent happened from 4:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. The NHTSA asks drivers to drive slowly and cautiously after the sun goes down. Many drivers have a tough time adjusting to the new low-light conditions.
Our Tuscaloosa car accident attorneys understand that pedestrians are more difficult to see near our roadways during the evening hours. For this reason, pedestrians are asked to be proactive and to either carry a flashlight or to wear reflective tape to be more visible to motorists. Pedestrians should use sidewalks when available and only cross at intersections and crosswalks. Remember, vehicles can be unpredictable. Be cautious on our roadways and don’t rely on traffic signals and signs.
Dr. Val Jones from Healthy Vision conducted interview on a recent podcast to discuss the dangers of nighttime driving. She spoke with optometrist Dr. Cristina Schnider and John Ulczycki of the National Safety Council to discuss why there are so many accidents on our roadways after dark. As a matter of fact, you’re three times more likely to be in an accident at night than during the daytime.
Dr. Schnider discussed the vision problems we have while driving at night. She says that even drivers with perfect vision experience significant vision reduction when it’s dark out. Drivers are asked to be cautious and to slow down on our roadways once the sun sets. Driver’s peripheral vision is also drastically affected during the evening. Drivers are unable to see color in their peripheral vision and seeing motion is tougher when it’s dark out. For this reason, it’s important for drivers to continuously scan their surroundings.
Dr. Schnider adds that since there’s less light at night, there’s less to focus on. Driver’s eyes will typically focus on what is available. This is oftentimes the glare on the windshield and that’s not safe. Be sure to look above the headlights of oncoming cars and passed the windshield to be able to see your entire surroundings. Don’t get locked into one object.
According to John Ulczycki with the National Safety Council, teen drivers are at the highest risk for these types of accidents. Although their vision may be better than older drivers, their ability to comprehend nighttime driving dangers isn’t as good. Older drivers are more experienced behind the wheel and can better judge nighttime hazards. Parents are urged to ride along with the teen drivers in their lives often. Supervised driving is critical in safely developing your teen driver’s skills. Make sure that you teen driver is equipped to handle the dangers of nighttime driving before cutting them loose on our roadways.
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to Reduce Fatal Car Accidents in Alabama, Nation, Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, November 10, 2011
Our Alabama Car Accident Attorneys Review AAA Study on Teen Driving Risks, Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, October 21, 2011