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Motorists reminded to be alert as clocks ‘fall back’

Since clocks “fell back” to standard time Sunday, and it now gets dark one hour earlier, the Michigan Department of Transportation reminds motorists to watch out for pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists on the drive home.

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

“Drivers need to realize that, after the time change on Nov. 3, it may be more challenging to see people walking, running, or bicycling during late afternoons and early evenings as they will be much less noticeable,” state Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba said. “To ensure visibility, pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists are encouraged to wear brighter colored clothing with reflective material. Drivers need to eliminate distractions and focus fully on the task of driving.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic crashes caused 6,283 pedestrian deaths and 857 bicyclist deaths in 2018. Unfortunately, these incidents were 3.4 percent and 6.3 percent increases, respectively, from the previous year. NHTSA’s data showed most of the pedestrian fatalities (76 percent) and bicyclist fatalities (50 percent) occurred during dark conditions between 6 and 8:59 p.m.

Last year, Michigan had 145 pedestrians and 21 bicyclists die in traffic crashes, with 78 percent pedestrian fatalities and 57 percent bicyclist fatalities involved in traffic crashes that occurred during dark conditions.

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