Spring Forward

Spring Forward

Sunday’s “spring forward” means a risky Monday morning for drivers and pedestrians

Hamilton, NJ – This weekend we “spring forward” sacrificing an hour of sleep for extended daylight hours that can be enjoyed throughout the summer and into early November.  Daylight Saving Time officially begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, March 14, and while changing the clocks might be a welcomed step toward spring, AAA says the transition puts both drivers and pedestrians at greater risk.

“There are two factors contributing to the increased risk following Daylight Saving Time – drowsiness and darkness,” says Tracy E. Noble, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “It’s important that both drivers and pedestrians are aware.”


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Drowsy Driving:

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted the most in-depth drowsy driving research ever conducted in the U.S, using footage of everyday drivers, which found drowsy driving is a factor in about 10% of all crashes – that is eight times higher than previous federal estimates. 

“When the clocks change, sleep cycles are interrupted and drivers can be more tired than they realize,” Noble added. “Losing one hour of sleep takes an adjustment and motorists need to prepare by getting more rest, especially on Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35% of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily. In the AAA Foundation survey, nearly all drivers (96%) say they view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior. However, 29% admitted to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.

Darkness:

The other issue increasing risk with the time change is darkness. The Monday morning drive, and the morning drive for several weeks to come, will be much darker than what drivers are used to, a serious concern because 76% of pedestrian fatalities happen when it’s dark, according to findings from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released in February 2020.

According to the New Jersey State Police fatal accident statistics there were 179 pedestrian deaths in 2020 and there have been 28 as of March 11, 2021.

AAA offers motorists and pedestrians the following safety tips:

AAA Tips for Drivers

  • Slow down, pay attention and eliminate all distractions.
  • Watch out for pedestrians when backing up in parking lots or driveways.
  • Sun glare can make it difficult to see so:
    • Increase your following distance from the vehicle ahead of you;
    • Utilize your sun visor and invest in polarized sunglasses, as both can help reduce glare.
  • Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible during early morning and evening hours.
  • Keep vehicle headlights and windows (inside and out) clean.
  • Watch the high beams.  Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are around.
  • Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.

AAA Tips for Pedestrians

  • Cross at intersections or crosswalks – not in the middle of the street or between parked cars.  Do not jaywalk.
  • Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks. If you have to walk on a road that does not have sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
  • Evaluate the distance and speed of oncoming traffic before you step out into the street.
  • Wear bright colors or reflective clothing if you are walking near traffic at dawn, dusk and night. Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
  • Allow extra time and distance for a vehicle to stop in inclement weather.
  • While walking, pocket the cell phone and avoid listening to music at a volume that prohibits you from hearing approaching danger.
  • Do not let umbrellas or jacket hoods block your view of approaching traffic.

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