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DUSK AND DARKNESS

It’s time to ‘fall back’! This Sunday, November 4 will mark the end of Daylight Savings. As New Yorkers get ready to set their clocks back an hour, city officials are sending out their seasonal warning to be extra vigilant on the roads as motorists and pedestrians find themselves more frequently in the dark.

 

The Deadliest Time of the Year

When most people think of the end of Daylight Savings, they typically rejoice about the extra hour of sleep they will gain from setting their clocks back. However, this annual time adjustment has proven to be more dangerous than helpful for pedestrians on the road, causing a dramatic increase in traffic accidents and fatalities every year. The New York Department of Transportation reports the deadliest time of the year for pedestrians on the road in New York City is between November 1 to March 15. This spike can be contributed to:

  • earlier and longer hours of darkness
  • increased fatigue from the time change
  • lower visibility due to darker driving hours
  • blinding sunrise/sunset for drivers on the road

Speeding, failure to yield, and left-handed turns are the biggest culprits when it comes to causing pedestrian traffic accidents in the dark. And with thousands of pedestrians walking to school and work in the early morning or evening hours every day, that is an astounding number of opportunities for someone to get seriously hurt in a vehicle accident- or worse.

 

‘Dusk and Darkness’

To help reduce the number of pedestrian traffic accidents this season, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), New York City Police Department (NYPD) will set into motion the third annual Dusk and Darkness campaign under the Vision Zero initiative. This safety campaign aims to boost awareness and promote safe driving habits, using community outreach opportunities and increased law enforcement teams to help reduce unnecessary injuries and deaths for NYC pedestrians.

In the two years the Dusk and Darkness campaign has been active, NYC saw significant results in the decline of traffic fatalities between November 1  to March 15. Traffic reports showed NYC averaged about 63.4 traffic deaths in the five years prior to the start of the Dusk and Darkness campaign. This number declined to 51 deaths in the first year and 44 in the second year, sparking hope that we will see a further reduction in pedestrian fatalities in the 2018 to 2019 fall and winter months.

 

What To Expect

Anyone out on the roads in New York City can expect to see a few changes as a part of the beginning of the Dusk and Darkness campaign:

  • Increased Law Enforcement: With the majority of deadly traffic accidents occurring at night, NYC residents can expect to see an increase in law enforcement out on the roads in the evening and nighttime hours. Law enforcement will be looking for drivers who are displaying reckless behaviors such as speeding, failing to yield, impaired driving, or neglecting right of way laws that are known for causing serious pedestrians crashes and fatalities.
  • “Day of Awareness”: On November 1st, you may have noticed NYPD and DOT teams out on the streets across all five boroughs engaging drivers in conversations. The goal of these street teams is to educate drivers on the dangers of the time change in high priority areas where increased rates of traffic accidents are possible in the morning and evening hours. By encouraging safer driving habits prior to the end of Daylight Savings, the hope is that more drivers will be aware of the risks and how they can prevent accidents from occurring.
  • Daylight Saving Awareness: To help create more ongoing awareness regarding the dangers of Daylight Savings, DOT will be running radio ads during evening commutes until November 21st to alert drivers to become more aware while on the road. These ads will encourage drivers to follow the 25 MPH citywide speed limit, remind them of the low visibility darkness can bring, and to always yield for pedestrians when they are crossing the street.

 

‘Alive At 25’

In 2017, at least 20 percent of all fatal traffic accidents in New York City involved drivers between the ages to 18 to 25. To help engage younger drivers to practice safer driving habits in addition to the Dusk and Darkness campaign, city officials announced the start of the  Alive At 25 program. This safety program is funded by the National Safety Council (NSC) and offered to high-school seniors across NYC. The curriculum, spread across four sessions, is based on choice theory, using real-life scenarios on how to safely operate a vehicle to help reduce the chances of younger drivers causing traffic accidents on the roads.

 

Staying Safe In the Dark

To keep New York City pedestrians safer on the roads this year, residents who walk and drive can both take precautions to prevent unnecessary accidents. The National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers these safety tips for pedestrians and motorist to consider:

Pedestrians:

  • Use a flashlight when walking.
  • Place reflective materials on your bags and outerwear.
  • Always look before crossing, even if the traffic signals say to go.
  • Avoid jaywalking or crossing between crosswalks.
  • Use sidewalks when available.
  • Do not cross the street if a car is coming assuming they will stop.
  • Watch out for driveways and intersections.
  • Stay focused on the road and avoid distractive devices.

 

Motorists:

  • Slow down so you are able to see pedestrians crossing.
  • Don’t assume pedestrians hear or see you coming.
  • Keep all windows, mirrors, and your windshield clean and free of debris that could block your vision.
  • Drive sober.
  • Avoid using electronic devices when driving.

Pedestrians deserve the right to safe streets at every hour of the day. If you or a loved one have sustained a serious injury from a negligent traffic accident, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein. With over 50 years of experience aggressively fighting back for victims of unnecessary car accidents, our winning team will provide a free case evaluation to explore your options for seeking justice.