Daylight Saving: A Dangerous Time

Posted by Bradley Thayer | Dec 07, 2020 | 0 Comments

Daylight Saving Time has a measurable impact on our lives. On November 1, 2020, we “fell back”—gaining an hour of sleep.  It also, though, started getting darker even earlier in the day. Pushback has led governments worldwide to consider scrapping Daylight Saving Time, due to well-documented negative effects on people's moods, sleep, and general states of well-being, according to an October 29, 2020 article published in the Scientific American entitled “Governments Worldwide Consider Ditching Daylight Saving Time”

For me, Daylight Saving Time means it is dark by the time I am typically clocking out from work around 5 or 6 PM and it makes it that much more difficult to get outside with my 2 1/2-year-old son before we start our dinner and bedtime routines.

 An even bigger impact Daylight Saving Time has on people (to the extent it could be life and death) is the danger it creates for drivers and, more particularly, pedestrians.  This impact, too, is well-documented and clearly borne out by statistics, unfortunately.

There are multiple academic papers focusing on the effects of daylight and daylight savings time on pedestrian and motor vehicle document occupant fatalities in the United States.  Two examples are: (1) “Daylight saving time and motor vehicle crashes: the reduction in pedestrian and vehicle occupant fatalities.”; Am J Public Health; S A Ferguson, D F Preusser, A K Lund, P L Zador, and R G Ulmer; 1995 January; 85(1): 92–95 ; and, (2) “The effects of daylight and daylight saving time on US pedestrian fatalities and motor vehicle occupant fatalities”; Accid. Anal. Prev.; D Coate, S Markowitz; 2004 May; 36(3):351-7.  In the latter paper, for example, the results showed that full year Daylight Saving Time would reduce pedestrian fatalities by 171 per year or by 13% of all pedestrian fatalities in the 5 AM to 10 AM and the 4 PM to 9 PM time periods.  A lesser, but still significant positive reduction would occur in motor vehicle occupant fatalities during the same time periods.

So what can we do, collectively and individually to be safer? 

Things to remember as a pedestrian: 

  • Just because you can see headlights from miles away does not mean that the car can see you. With it getting dark earlier in the day, please keep this in mind.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pedestrian safety basics (https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/pedestrian-safety):

“10 Walking Safety Tips

  1. Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
  2. Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
  3. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  4. Keep alert at all times; don't be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
  5. Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
  6. If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
  7. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
  8. Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
  9. Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
  10. Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.”

Things to remember as a driver:

  • It's important to remember as a driver that drowsy and fatigued driving is extremely dangerous and the effects of daylight savings on sleep in daylight need to be considered.
  • Also, sight impairment when driving in the dark.
  • Additionally, here are some AAA (“American Automobile Association”) Mid-Atlantic tips for drivers:
  • “Slow down.
  • Turn on your headlights to become more visible during early morning and evening hours.
  • Keep vehicle headlights and windows (inside and out) clean.
  • Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are around.
  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.”

About the Author

Bradley Thayer

Brad Thayer is a partner at the Schauermann Thayer firm. Brad is licensed in both Oregon and Washington. He has been practicing law since 2015. He was presented the 2018 Rising Star Award by the Clark County Bar Association. Brad's practice focuses on automobile collision, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian injury, dog bite, and myriad other types of injury and insurance cases. During his free time, Brad enjoys following the Portland Trail Blazers, playing basketball, going to concerts, and playing the drums. He especially enjoys hiking in the Columbia River Gorge and exploring other Northwest wonders.

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