With daylight saving time starting Sunday, AAA is warning drivers to be extra careful on the roads.
The clocks spring ahead one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday, but the change comes with a grave reminder.
According to AAA Tidewater, the changing sunrise and sunset times each day can mean reduced visibility in the morning, and more people out at night. With a rising annual number of pedestrian deaths on America’s roads, AAA says drivers should take extra precautions.
“Motorists should drive slower and be extra alert, especially in neighborhoods and school zones because more pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists will be enjoying the outdoors on or near streets in the longer evening daylight hours,” according to a AAA release.
In 2017, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed, representing a 9 percent increase from the previous year and a 25-year high, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
There were 114 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 in Virginia — a 5.8 percent decrease from the 121 in 2016.
While Virginia’s numbers may have been lower in 2017, AAA still suggests drivers be aware of pedestrians in crosswalks and on the sides of roads.
Parents should also take the time to teach their children to be careful when playing outside and watch for motorists.
In the morning, drivers should take steps to address reduced visibility.
“The early morning drive to work or school will be darker and makes it more difficult to see pedestrians and also school children on foot,” AAA Tidewater Virginia Vice President Georjeane Blumling said. “Drivers also may need to turn on their headlights, if beginning their commute in the early morning and then turn their car headlights off when they get to their destination.”
Here is a list of tips from AAA:
- See and be seen — drivers need to see you to avoid you
- Pay attention — put down your cell phone while walking
- Make eye contact with drivers when crossing streets
- Wear bright colors or reflective clothing at dusk and at night
- Carry a flashlight when walking or walking pets after dark
- Walk on the sidewalk; if there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic
- Parents should teach and reinforce children’s pedestrian safety habits
- Drivers should slow down and watch for children and families in neighborhoods and along school bus routes, at intersections and when backing out of driveways
- Always yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk
- When approaching a crosswalk, reduce speed and be prepared to stop
- When stopped at a crosswalk, allow enough room between your vehicle and the crosswalk so other drivers can see the pedestrians you have stopped for
- Teen drivers should exercise extra caution