COLUMBUS — With this week’s time change on Nov. 4 at 2 a.m., Ohioans will gain an extra hour of sleep. It also means it is getting darker even earlier, reducing visibility and making it more important than ever for motorists to watch out for pedestrians during evening commutes, especially in residential areas and near schools.
In 2017, 145 pedestrians were killed on Ohio roadways, with 78% of those deaths happening at dawn, dusk or after dark. This is the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in the state in more than 10 years. November and December are the deadliest months for people walking in the Buckeye State.
“Roadway safety is a shared responsibility and with the time-change impacting visibility for all road users, we are asking drivers to slow down and watch for pedestrians,” said Cait Harley, ODOT’s Safe Routes to School and Active Transportation Manager.
The Ohio Department of Transportation’s bicycle and pedestrian safety campaign, Your Move Ohio, offers these safety tips.
Time change safety tips for motorists include:
Slow down: During the early morning and evening hours, more time is needed to see pedestrians. Increase the recommended safe distances. The more space, the more time there is to react. Slow down during rain and fog too.
Always stop: for pedestrians crossing the street. Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
Be extra cautious: Decreased visibility calls for more vigilant driving. Watch for bicyclists and pedestrians. Know that people who are walking or biking bundled up may not be able to hear or see as well and may take more time to react or maneuver especially with wet or icy conditions. Honking can startle or alarm pedestrians and bicyclists, creating a dangerous situation. Watch for children and families in neighborhoods and along school bus routes, at intersections and when backing out of driveways.
Be seen: Turn on headlights to be more visible during early morning and evening hours.
Eliminate distractions: Put away the Change the time on car clocks before starting to drive.
Beware of glare: Clean windshields inside and out. Dirty windshields can magnify glare. Also keep windows, headlights and mirrors clean. Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are around.
Time change safety tips for pedestrians fall into four main categories:
See and be seen: Drivers need to see you to avoid you. Pedestrians can help drivers see them better by wearing reflective clothing and/or accessories. Consider attaching reflective stickers or fluorescent tape to clothing, backpacks, purses and briefcases. These materials reflect light from headlights back to drivers, making it easier to be seen. Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
Be aware: Avoid distractions – put the phone away and turn down the volume on music players to hear approaching danger. Don’t assume that drivers or bicyclists see pedestrians. Make eye contact with drivers when crossing streets. Do not let umbrellas or jacket hoods block views of approaching traffic.
Walk defensively: Ohio law says that motorists must yield to pedestrians crossing a street. However, especially at this time of year, be extra aware of drivers who are driving toward the sunrise or sunset, as it is harder to see pedestrians. Walk on sidewalks whenever possible. If there are not sidewalks, walk on the shoulder or berm, in the opposite direction of traffic.
Cross consciously: Remember look left, right, and left again and only cross when it is clear. Always cross at an intersection or crosswalk, where lighting is often better. Watch out for cars at every driveway and intersection.