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Time Maneuvers: Dark Days Ahead

DARK DAYS AHEAD

We are in the dark days. No, not another Covid-19 surge (we hope). The end of Daylight Saving Time. We “fall back,” setting our clocks back an hour, ending the six months during which we artificially lengthened the evening daylight hours. Is our maneuvering of time a harmless experiment, or a dangerous assault on our bodies and society?

Daylight Saving Time, or DST, was originally devised as a way to save energy in the evenings and was first implemented during WWI in Germany. Since then, however, the evidence that DST helps to save energy has been less persuasive. What DST does do, according studies, is reduce accidents and crime, and boost retail.

#LockTheClock

It is estimated that year-round DST would reduce pedestrian fatalities by 171 per year, or by 13% in the 5:00am-10:00am and 4:00pm-9:00pm time periods. Motor vehicle occupant fatalities would be reduced by 195 per year, or 3% during the same time periods. Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of Arlington, VA has calculated that going to year-round DST would save approximately 200 lives per year.

Statistics like these led to a “ditch the switch” movement, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) reintroducing a bill in Congress annually, including this year, to make DST year-round throughout the country and promoting #LockTheClock. Fully 19 states—including Georgia—are in favor of switching to year-round DST, but they cannot do so without a change in federal law. The 1966 Uniform Time Act requires states to follow DST or stick with standard time all year, which Arizona, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto and the U.S. Virgin Islands do. So states must wait for Congress to act. As the repeated re-introduction of Sen. Rubio’s bill in Congress has demonstrated, that could be a long wait.

Studies show that the weeks following the transition from DST are especially hazardous. After six months of enhanced visibility due to increased lighting, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians fail to make necessary adjustments for the darkness. A study at Carnegie Mellon University found that pedestrians walking during the evening rush hour are nearly three times more likely to be struck and killed by cars in the weeks after the fall time change. On average, there are 37 more U.S. pedestrian deaths around the hour of 6:00pm in November compared to October, or a 186% increase.

THE “WITCHING HOUR”

Triple A warns drivers and pedestrians to be aware of the 5:00pm-6:00pm “weekday witching hour” after DST ends. AAA suggests the following:

For Motorists:

  1. Follow at safe driving distances so you have plenty of time to react; decreased visibility affects depth perception and peripheral vision;
  2. Approach crosswalks and intersections with extra caution; look for cyclists and pedestrians before turning, and anticipate pedestrians crossing mid-block;
  3. Adjust speed to compensate for low-light conditions;
  4. Maintain your vehicle: make sure headlights, taillights and signals work properly; replace worn wiper blades; refill fluid reservoirs.

For Pedestrians:

  1. See and be seen: wear reflective gear in the dark;
  2. Walk against traffic but bicycle with traffic;
  3. Cross at corners, not mid-block.

CONTACT THOMAS LAW FIRM

If you or someone you know has been in an accident or has been injured, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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