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Standard Time Returns Sunday -- Early Darkness Requires Extra Care

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Standard Time Returns Sunday -- Early Darkness Requires Extra Care

October 26, 1999

DOT 175-99
Wednesday, October 20, 1999
Contact: FHWA, Michael Thoryn, (202) 366-0602
Contact: NHTSA, Faithia Robertson, (202) 366-9550
Contact: DOT, Bill Mosley, (202) 366-5571

With daylight saving time ending on Oct. 31, the last Sunday of the month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today reminded drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to take special care at dusk and at night.

Oct. 31 is also Halloween, when many of our nation's children are trick or treating, and Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle said extra caution is needed to protect children and young people.

"Safety is President Clinton's and Secretary Slater's highest transportation priority," Wykle said. "The transition from daylight saving time means it will be darker during peak home-bound travel, so simple precautions like turning on your headlights and wearing bright-colored clothing can help prevent crashes."

Wykle said half of all fatal crashes occur at night but only a quarter of the travel, which means each mile driven at night is twice as dangerous as a mile driven during daylight. Bicyclists also must be alert because almost one-third of fatal bike crashes occur in low-light and dark conditions.

Most of the nation will return to standard time at 2 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, when clocks will "fall back" one hour. The change provides an additional hour of daylight in the early morning.

Under law, daylight saving time is observed from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October. Next spring, the nation will return to daylight time starting Sunday, April 2.

The federal law does not require any area to observe daylight saving time. But if a state chooses to observe daylight time, it must follow the starting and ending dates set by the law. In those parts of the country that do not observe daylight time, no resetting of clocks is required. Those states and territories include Arizona, Hawaii, the part of Indiana located in the Eastern time zone, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Slater offered several tips for motorists to improve the ability to see and be seen:

* Protect your eyes from glare - allow them to adapt to darkness before driving. Because of the natural aging process, night vision is less sharp in drivers older than 40.
* Adjust the rearview mirror to the "night" setting to avoid headlight glare.
* Wipe off your headlights and keep your windshield clean inside and out.
* Going east in the morning or west in the afternoon, the sun may be in your eyes - allow extra travel time.
* Take off sunglasses at dusk.
* Don't drive at speeds that are unsafe, especially on unlit or winding roads and when using low beams.
* Be mindful that high beams can blind an approaching driver, bicyclist or pedestrian. Be sure they are turned off when a car approaches, especially on two-lane roads. If blinded yourself, look down and toward the right edge of the road.
* Look for pedestrians, bicyclists, and deer along the roadway. Deer are especially active at night.

For pedestrians and bicyclists:

* Consider wearing a brightly-colored scarf or hat. Wearing darker "fall" colors can make it hard for motorists to see you, especially if they aren't expecting you.
* Wearing reflective or fluorescent gear helps you remain visible to motorists. School children can place reflective strips on book bags and lunch boxes.
* "Look left-right and then left again" before stepping off the curb. Don't depend solely on the traffic signal.
* Pedestrians should walk facing traffic so they can see oncoming vehicles. Bicyclists should travel with the flow of traffic in the same direction as other vehicles.
* Avoid jaywalking and crossing between parked vehicles. You're much more visible using the crosswalk


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