‘Fall back’ safety reminder to motorists

‘Fall back’ safety reminder to motorists

As the clocks returned to standard time on November 7, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Michigan Fitness Foundation remind motorists to watch out for pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists each evening on the drive home. Motorists also should allow a minimum 3-foot distance when passing a bicyclist, according to state law.

While we’ve had some time to adjust, “drivers need to realize after the time change that it may be more challenging to see people walking, running, or bicycling as they will be much less noticeable ” said State Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba. “To ensure visibility, pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists are encouraged to wear brighter colored clothing with reflective material. Drivers need to eliminate distractions, slow down, and focus fully on the task of driving.”

Research from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute confirms that pedestrians are more at risk of serious injury from a motor vehicle crash in the weeks following a return to standard time. The most dangerous time is the first hour of darkness.

Working with schools and communities across the state, the Michigan Fitness Foundation’s Safe Routes to School program staff provide best practices that help communities identify and overcome safety barriers that make it safe for children to walk and bike to school.

“Through our Safe Routes to School partnership with MDOT, we are pleased to help communities create safe environments for children walking and biking to school,” said Michigan Fitness Foundation President and CEO Amy Ghannam. “When we set our clocks back each fall, it also is important to remind ourselves that it will now be darker for students walking to school, creating less visibility. We can all play a role by challenging ourselves to be more alert to keep kids safe on their school commute.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 6,205 pedestrians and 846 pedalcyclists (bicyclists and riders of two-wheel, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles, and unicycles powered solely by pedals) died in traffic crashes in 2020. While Americans drove less in 2020 due to the pandemic, pedestrian fatalities remained flat and pedalcyclist fatalities increased 5 percent over the past year. Most pedestrian fatalities (76 percent) and pedalcyclist fatalities (50 percent) occur during dark conditions between 6 and 8:59 p.m.

MDOT continues to work with partners statewide on the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) safety campaign based on the National Strategy on Highway Safety, which is intended to influence driver behavior and improve safety. For more information on the TZD campaign, visit www.Michigan.gov/ZeroDeaths.