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AAA has advice for motorists, pedestrians
By AAA of Western and Central New York
It’s time to “spring forward” and set clocks ahead one hour beginning Sunday, March 13, at 2 a.m. Losing an hour of sleep and the change in daylight hours means motorists may potentially experience drowsy driving and added distractions behind the wheel as children and pedestrians take advantage of more daylight.
The Top 4 precautions drivers should be mindful of:
√ Drowsy driving; “Slow Down, Move Over”
√ Kids walking home from school or playing outside
√ Frosted headlights
√ Vehicle Recalls
Don't be asleep at the wheel. Drowsy driving is a significant traffic safety issue. Drivers "springing forward" by moving their clocks ahead by one hour need to remember to adjust their sleep schedule to prevent drowsiness on the road.
“While many people are looking forward to the end of winter, few realize the added dangers that can come as a result of a time change, especially when behind the wheel,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations, AAA Western and Central New York. “This hour change can disturb sleep patterns, perhaps even resulting in drowsy driving.”
According to the AAA Foundation research:
√ 95% of drivers view drowsy driving as very or extremely dangerous, but 17% admitted to driving when they were so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at least once in the previous 30 days before the survey (2020 Traffic Safety Culture Index).
√ Drivers who have slept for less than five hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.
√ Drivers who miss one to two hours of sleep can nearly double their risk for a crash.
As we welcome more daylight in the evening, children, pedestrians, joggers, walkers and bicyclists will likely become more active outdoors (weather permitting). Pedestrians dress in reflective clothing and cross at intersections or crosswalks. Look left, right, and left again, and only cross when it is clear. Do not jaywalk or cross 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.
AAA recommends drivers:
√ Should not rely on their bodies for warning signs of drowsiness and should instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.
√ Travel at times of the day when they are normally awake.
√ Avoid heavy foods.
√ Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.
Slow Down Move Over
Tired drivers are not as focused and, while there is more daylight, they are still at risk of being distracted. First responders, construction workers and people stranded with a breakdown on the side of the road are vulnerable to drivers who are not paying attention and are at a greater risk of being hit.
√ It's not just tow providers and other emergency responders being killed on the side of the road. Since 2015, over 1,600 people have been struck and killed while outside of a disabled vehicle.
To protect roadside workers, drivers stranded with a breakdown, and others, AAA offers these tips:
√ Remain alert, avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.
√ Keep an eye out for situations where emergency vehicles, tow trucks, utility service vehicles or disabled vehicles are stopped on the side of the road.
√ When you see these situations, slow down and, if possible, move one lane over and away from the people and vehicles stopped at the side of the road.
Watch out for children playing outside in the evening amid more daylight. Also, losing an hour over the weekend may make drivers feel foggy for the Monday morning commute when children will be on their way to school. Drivers must remain vigilant. AAA recommends the following:
√ Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
√ Stay alert. Drivers should always avoid distractions while driving, but it’s particularly important in school zones and residential neighborhoods. Look for clues such as AAA School Safety Patrol members, crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds, indicating children could be in the area.
√ Scan between parked cars – children could dart into the road.
√ Always stop for school buses that are loading or unloading students.
Changing the clocks is a good reminder to check the conditions of your headlights.
√ With 50% of crashes occurring at night, drivers should check their headlights for signs of deterioration, and invest in new headlights; or, at a minimum, a low-cost headlight cleaning and restoration to boost the safety of driving after dark. Headlights can show signs of deterioration after three years, but most commonly by year five.
√ AAA suggests drivers check their headlights for changes in appearance such as yellowing or clouding. If the bulb is difficult to see, it is time to have the lens replaced or restored as soon as possible.
Replacement and restoration services are available at most repair shops, including AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities.
Make sure headlights are correctly re-aimed to maximize forward lighting performance and minimize glare to oncoming and preceding drivers.
Check for Vehicle Recalls
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall app makes checking vehicles for safety recalls easier with their new SaferCar free smartphone app, allowing drivers to park their cars in a "virtual garage" and immediately be alerted when a recall is issued. The SaferCar app enables users to receive recall notices for car seats, tires, trailers, trucks, vans and motorcycles. SaferCar remembers all the vehicles and equipment registered and will even recommend local dealerships handling repairs.
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.