AAA urges Oklahomans setting their clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time Sunday to also consciously reset their driving mindsets. While gaining extended daylight in the evening, we will lose an hour of morning. Come Monday morning, the commute will take on a new look for early morning joggers, school students at bus stops and school crossings and for motorists driving to work – in the dark.
“Roadways will remain darker longer, causing particular concern for pedestrians,” said Leslie Gamble, spokesperson for AAA Oklahoma. “Motorists and pedestrians need to be aware of these dangers, remain alert and let nothing take their attention off the roadways to minimize distractions.”
Oklahoma pedestrian fatalities increased 34% in 2019 as compared to 2018, according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. Yet, the average across the U.S. was up just three percent for the same time period. Only six states had a higher projected percentage increase year-over-year than Oklahoma. (The report compared actual fatality counts by state for the first six months of 2019 and historic data and trends for the second half of the year for the estimated projection.)
Losing an hour of sleep can also increase a motorist’s risk of drowsy driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily. In a recent related AAA Foundation survey, nearly all drivers (96 percent) say they view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior. However, 29 percent admitted to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at some point in the past month.
“A change in time can mean that drivers are more tired than they realize,” said Gamble. “AAA warns that drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash.”
The auto club offers motorists and pedestrians the following safety tips:
AAA Oklahoma’s Tips for Drivers
Slow down, pay attention and eliminate all distractions.
Watch out for pedestrians when backing up in parking lots and driveways.
Sun glare can make it difficult to see so:
increase your following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you;
use your sun visor and invest in polarized sunglasses; both can help reduce glare.
Turn on your headlights to make your vehicle more visible during the early morning and evening hours.
Keep vehicle headlights and windows clean.
Watch the high beams. Do not use them when other cars or pedestrians are around.
Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
AAA Oklahoma’s Tips for Pedestrians
Cross at intersections or crosswalks – not in the middle of the street or between parked cars.
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 at 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 using headphones at volumes that don’t let you hear what the traffic is doing around you.
Do not let umbrellas or jacket hoods block your view of approaching traffic.